Social media has become an integral part of modern society, and its impact extends to the professional and personal lives of nurses. It is now widely acknowledged that social media plays a significant role in the recruitment and hiring process, making it essential for nurses to maintain a professional and ethical online presence. This essay explores the importance of adhering to professional standards of nursing on social media, the potential legal and ethical implications of inappropriate conduct, and the relevance of Christian values in shaping nurses’ online behavior.
Review of Social Media Activity
Upon reviewing my social media profiles, I identified several posts and conversations that could be deemed unprofessional and detrimental to both my nursing career and the reputation of the nursing field (LaValley & Tumeinski, 2020). For instance, I found instances where I complained about patients, colleagues, or work-related issues in a disrespectful or derogatory manner. Such posts could be considered unprofessional as they breach the ethical principles of confidentiality and respect for patients’ rights (Canadian Nurses Association, 2019).
Furthermore, I came across some images and posts that depicted alcohol consumption or other activities that could be seen as inappropriate for a nursing professional. These types of content may undermine the trust that patients and colleagues place in nurses, and they conflict with the expectation of nurses to maintain a high standard of behavior (Lachman, 2018).
Responsibility of Nurses in Upholding Professional Conduct
Nurses have a crucial responsibility to uphold a standard of conduct consistent with the professional standards governing their practice (American Nurses Association, 2018). This responsibility extends not only to their actions in the workplace but also to their conduct in their personal lives, especially on social media. The nursing profession is built on principles of integrity, compassion, and respect for human dignity. By adhering to these principles on social media, nurses can strengthen public trust in the profession and enhance patient outcomes (LaValley & Tumeinski, 2020).
Maintaining professional conduct on social media is vital because inappropriate posts or conversations can have severe consequences (Lachman, 2018). For instance, sharing patient information on social media can violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) (Canadian Nurses Association, 2019). This can lead to legal consequences, including penalties and disciplinary action against the nurse involved. Moreover, unprofessional behavior on social media can damage a nurse’s reputation, limiting career opportunities and advancement within the profession.
Example of Unethical and Unprofessional Conduct
An example of unethical and unprofessional conduct on social media is when a nurse posts a photo of a patient’s unique medical case without obtaining explicit consent. This action violates the patient’s privacy rights and is a clear breach of professional standards (LaValley & Tumeinski, 2020). Even if the nurse does not disclose the patient’s name, sharing identifiable information can still be considered a violation of patient confidentiality.
Example of Violating HIPAA
Imagine a nurse venting about a frustrating day at work on social media, mentioning specific details about the cases they encountered. Although they do not disclose patient names, they provide enough information for someone familiar with the situation to identify the patients. This breach of confidentiality violates HIPAA regulations, as it exposes patients’ personal and medical information to the public (Canadian Nurses Association, 2019).
Social Media Activity Reflecting Christian Values
As a nurse guided by Christian values, my social media activity reflects respect for human value and dignity for all individuals (Xie et al., 2019). I have actively engaged in conversations and posts promoting empathy, compassion, and inclusivity. Additionally, I have shared content that raises awareness about various social issues and promotes acts of kindness and charity. This aligns with the Christian principles of loving one’s neighbor and treating others with dignity and respect.
Areas for Improvement
Language and Tone
One area for improvement in my social media activity is the language and tone used in posts and conversations (Lachman, 2018). While expressing frustration or venting about work-related issues is common on social media, it is essential to do so in a professional and respectful manner (LaValley & Tumeinski, 2020). Instead of using negative or derogatory language, I can adopt a more constructive approach to discussing challenges faced in my nursing profession. By doing so, I can maintain a positive and respectful image online, which aligns with the professional standards expected of nurses (Canadian Nurses Association, 2019).
Another aspect that could be improved is the content I share on social media platforms (Xie et al., 2019). Although I strive to promote empathy and compassion, it is crucial to critically evaluate all shared content to ensure it aligns with the values of the nursing profession and Christian principles (American Nurses Association, 2018). Sharing misleading or inappropriate content, even unintentionally, can reflect poorly on me as a nurse and may negatively impact the reputation of the nursing field as a whole (LaValley & Tumeinski, 2020). By being more mindful of the content I share, I can contribute positively to the online nursing community and the wider public.
Confidentiality and Privacy
Maintaining patient confidentiality and privacy is of utmost importance in nursing (Canadian Nurses Association, 2019). In my social media activity, I must remain vigilant not to disclose any patient information or identifiable details (Lachman, 2018). Even seemingly harmless posts or comments that indirectly reveal patient-related incidents can be a breach of confidentiality and may have legal consequences (LaValley & Tumeinski, 2020). To address this issue, I can remind myself of the importance of patient privacy and take extra care in ensuring that my posts do not contain any information that could be linked back to individual patients (Xie et al., 2019).
Engaging in Online Professional Development
To improve my social media activity as a nurse, I can actively engage in online professional development and education (Canadian Nurses Association, 2019). Following reputable nursing organizations, participating in webinars, and connecting with experienced nurses can help me stay informed about the latest developments in the field (Lachman, 2018). This knowledge can inform my online discussions and contribute to more insightful and meaningful conversations on social media (LaValley & Tumeinski, 2020). Engaging in continuous learning also demonstrates my commitment to professional growth and showcases my dedication to providing high-quality nursing care (American Nurses Association, 2018).
Seeking Feedback from Colleagues
Lastly, seeking feedback from colleagues and mentors can be a valuable strategy to improve my social media presence (Xie et al., 2019). By requesting constructive criticism, I can gain insights into areas where my online conduct may need improvement (Canadian Nurses Association, 2019). Colleagues with more experience in navigating social media in a professional context can offer valuable advice on how to enhance my digital presence while upholding nursing standards and values (Lachman, 2018). Taking their feedback into account can help me identify blind spots and ensure that my social media activity aligns more closely with the principles of the nursing profession (LaValley & Tumeinski, 2020).
Social media has transformed the way we communicate, connect, and even recruit for professional roles. As nurses, it is imperative that we understand the significance of our online presence and its potential impact on our careers and the reputation of the nursing profession (Canadian Nurses Association, 2019). Upholding professional standards and ethical conduct on social media is not only a legal requirement but also a moral responsibility (American Nurses Association, 2018). By aligning our social media behavior with the principles of nursing and Christian values, we can promote a positive image of the nursing profession while respecting the dignity and privacy of those we serve (Xie et al., 2019). Through continuous reflection and improvement, we can ensure that our online presence reflects the excellence and compassion expected of nurses in both their professional and personal lives.
American Nurses Association. (2018). Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements. Silver Spring, MD: American Nurses Association.
Canadian Nurses Association. (2019). Social Media Guidelines for Nurses. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Nurses Association.
Lachman, V. D. (2018). Ethical issues in the age of social media. Nursing Management, 49(1), 16-22. doi:10.1097/01.NUMA.0000525818.18320.e7
LaValley, J., & Tumeinski, M. (2020). The Impact of Social Media on Professionalism Among Nurses. Journal of Nursing Regulation, 11(3), 22-27. doi:10.1016/S2155-8256(20)30029-3
Xie, B., He, D., Mercer, T., Wang, Y., Wu, D., Fleisher, L., … & Lu, Y. (2019). Exploring US nurses’ intention to use social media for promoting physical activity. Health Informatics Journal, 25(2), 518-532. doi:10.1177/1460458217730372