5 Warnings to Nurses in a Social Media Era

If they haven’t yet, your patients will try to find you. My mom has a Twitter account. My friend’s nine-year old daughter posts to Instagram. Even my grandmother uses Facebook. We’ve all secretly tried to find someone that we use to love, use to hate, or use to date online, and we’re kidding ourselves if we don’t think our patients are doing it as well. So if you haven’t been contacted by a patient yet, trust me… it will eventually happen. For most of us, our full names are on our badges, and with nothing more to go on but a name and a place of employment, our patients can find out a lot of information about the people that rendered their care.

Do not ever talk badly about your boss, your coworkers, or the facility you work at. Ever. Like never-ever-ever. I can’t even begin to tell you how easily stuff gets back to the boss. Stuff spreads like wildfire. And nurses are nosy, and most like to talk. Make sure you’re not giving them anything too juicy to talk about! Try to focus on the positives, and when things are bad, leave your comments on social media kind of vague. Rough day at work because your boss makes you want to slam your head into a wall? Instead, post it has been a rough day at work! And try to end with a positive comment… It has been a rough day at work…but I’m so thankful I have a job that I love! Social media is kind of like calling someone after having too much to drink. You can’t take it back! And if you say something stupid, it’s amazing how everyone immediately chooses that moment to pay attention to what you’re saying. So remember to watch your pulse, and don’t post “reactionary” comments about anyone or anything in particular.

Never say anything you wouldn’t say with your manager sitting beside you. If you are responding to someone or something, or if someone is asking you a “nursing” question, remember to only say what you would say if your manager was sitting next to you. Things posted online are discoverable, and can last a lifetime. That being said, we do have a powerful nursing voice. Use it responsibly. I was once Facebook friends with someone who always talked about the people that came to the Emergency Room for non-emergent reasons. They thought they were funny, and they may have said a lot of things that we (sometimes) think ourselves, but eventually it all caught up with them.

The Internet is forever. It doesn’t matter what your privacy settings are. It doesn’t matter who is following you, or who is on your friends list. It doesn’t even matter if you delete something five seconds after posting it. Anything you put online is forever, and can be found. It speaks to your character, and our lives are our stage.

Our character is always in question. Nursing is a profession where our character is always in question. It’s okay to post yourself enjoying margaritas with some friends, but refrain from posting yourself passed out on the floor next to an empty margarita machine. Besides the patients who are probably googling us, current and future bosses can look to see if we live our lives like Florence Nightingale or Florence NightinNO. Nursing is part of who we are. It’s not a 9-5 job, and we are all aware that our license can be jeopardized by mistakes made in our personal lives.

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