A Nurse’s Guide to Social Media
With more than 800 million people active on Facebook and 250 million tweets posted daily on Twitter, the use of online social networking continues to grow at an astonishing rate. This perpetually expanding network has a wealth of benefits. Nurses can now connect professionally with colleagues and others in their field without any geographic limitations. The wealth of data and content generated through social media provides nurses an opportunity for continued learning online, allowing them to expand their knowledge and expertise.
With this in mind, the American Nurses Association (ANA) and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) issued a press release declaring a joint effort to uphold high standards of online professionalism.
In 2010, 46 Boards of Nursing were surveyed, and 33 of those reported receiving complaints about nurses posting photos or information about patients online, according to the NCSBN. Of those 33, 26 boards reported taking disciplinary action where the consequences varied depending on the severity of the incident. The NCSBN urges nurses need to keep in mind that they could be reported to their Board of Nursing, and in turn be investigated and/or undergo disciplinary action. Such action may include censure, being issued a letter of concern, conditions placed on the nurse’s license or even suspension.
It also is important to remember that information on the Internet that has been deleted can still be retrieved, according to the NCSBN.
When it comes to patients, the National Council suggests nurses err on the side of extreme caution. They are ethically and legally bound to maintain their patient’s privacy and are strictly prohibited from sharing any information (including pictures) in any capacity.
In addition, unprofessional conduct with coworkers and employers includes disparaging remarks or behavior, and must also be avoided in any online forum, according to the NCSBN. You should immediately report any inappropriate conduct you may witness.
For more detailed guidelines, NCSBN has published the pamphlet, “White Paper: A Nurse’s Guide to the Use of Social Media.”
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