By ANA Career Center Staff – April 2014
Social media can be a powerful tool for boosting your nursing career. It can also hold you back if you don't know how to use it properly. Read on to learn what you need to know about using social media as part of your nursing career.
Social media helps you make professional connections with people such as recruiters, employers and colleagues, says Lauren Milligan of ResuMAYDAY. Also, "social media is a great way to quickly locate articles, white papers and academic papers to stay on top of new procedures and trends in health care."
Take advantage of career sites, such as the ANA Career Center, and put together a professional profile that recruiters and employers can see. "Be active on LinkedIn," says Linda Pophal of Strategic Communications. "It's a very professionally oriented site and even for those who are not active job seekers, it can be a good place to make professional connections that can help build your network and lead to other opportunities."
Remember Rules and Ethics
Of course, there are things nurses need to watch out for when they're using social media — and the biggest one is Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act violations. "Posting protected health information that violates HIPPA compliance or hospital policies is a sure path to termination," Milligan says.
As most nurses know, any information shared that may serve to identify an individual is protected information, Pophal says. "That means, for instance, that if a woman gives birth to sextuplets in your community and you tweet about it, but don't mention her name, it's still likely she will be identified and that will get you in hot water."
But it's not just HIPAA violations. Social media is also a place where nurses need to remember their ethical duties to respect patient-nurse boundaries and their duties to co-workers. "Posting insensitive information about a colleague, or posting anything that might put the hospital or clinic in a questionable position is also a bad call," Milligan says. "This gives future employers the right to question your judgment, trustworthiness and candor, and your ability to protect confidential information."
Be aware of any policies your employer may have regarding the use of social media, and take special care if the policy seems vague or unclear, Milligan says. Also take time to review ANA's tips on using social media.
Consider Separate Accounts
One option for managing your social media presence is to keep two accounts: one professional and one personal. Use a professional account to share timely articles that others may find useful or speak generally about your achievements — without using protected health information.
"Nurses can use social media wisely by showing and demonstrating what they have done that was above and beyond their responsibilities," says interview coach Patrick Patterson. "It's a competitive industry, and your employer wants to see/hire/advance the people who go above and beyond; if you complete your regular responsibilities every day and simply show a few examples of times you went above and beyond, it will go a long way in the eyes of those who view you."
Even if you have a personal account, however, remember that it's difficult to keep anything on the Internet private, no matter how many settings you've activated. "Be cautious when posting personal stuff," Patterson advises.
When it comes to social media, "there are many benefits — but also risks," Pophal says. "It pays to use these tools wisely!" Being familiar with your employer's policies and remembering that social media is a form of communication — just like emailing or talking in a hallway — can help you navigate social media platforms and help you take advantage of the benefits of social media in your nursing career.