Facebook Etiquette for Nurses

Facebook Etiquette for Nurses

Apr 2, 2015 | 10:00 am

Social Media as a Tool

Social networking has caught the public by storm. Over six million users have Facebook accounts where they go online to contact family and friends, classmates they haven’t seen in years and hold discussions with people they may not have ever met, but with whom they’ve discovered they have a lot in common. Because of its wide circulation, businesses use Facebook for its advertising potential, the career oriented use it for self-promotion and politicians use it to test the waters for issues and political strategies.

Electronic communications are only expected to increase, and nurses are encouraged to use these communications to gather information, problem solving and creating a supportive network among others in their field. However, carelessly divulging personal information or information concerning others carries enormous risks. Nurses are bound to rules of confidentiality and their profiles can negatively affect their careers, if they don’t follow a few simple rules in Facebook etiquette.

Keeping it Anonymous

In the field of nursing, there are many cases that come up involving ethical or productive treatment for a patient. Although it’s okay to discuss situations and case examples, Facebook etiquette demands the nurse never divulges the patient’s name. The case sample should only discuss the type of disease, injury or the progress of the patient under treatment, without stating where the incident took place, who was involved in the incident or who was affected.

All nurses have the obligation to safeguard patient information learned by the nurse during the course of treatment. Information may only be disclosed to other members of the health care team for the purpose of providing treatment for the patient. Confidential information should only be shared with others through the patient’s signed legal consent. Nurses are held accountable for breeches in confidentiality and can be sued for thousands of dollars and lose their jobs, if the breech can be traced to a social networking site.

Protect Your Reputation

Not all Facebook users have a strong sense of privacy. They may use their Facebook page to record parties where they had a bit too much to drink, their sexual activities or describe their adventures with illicit experiments. They might post pictures of themselves in compromising positions and circulate lewd jokes. For nurses, a Facebook page broadcasting questionable behavior can be a deathblow to their careers.

Your Facebook etiquette should involve a discreet profile of yourself, absent the innuendos of overt sexuality, drug and alcohol abuse or other questionable behaviors. Instances of unprofessional and inappropriate nursing conduct within the electronic media can be reported to the Board of Nursing.

Employers do not want scandals. Even nursing students should be aware of acceptable Facebook etiquette. It is common for both prospective employers and nursing schools to check the applicant’s Facebook page to get an idea of the person’s character. Applicants who frequently post pictures of themselves or write posts describing themselves engaged in questionable behavior can lose their opportunity to join a nursing school or secure employment within the nursing profession.

When Professional Conduct Pays Off

Social networking is public. Never assume that just because you have privacy settings, only a few exclusive friends are able to see your page. The Internet world is filled with sophisticated users that know how to by-pass privacy protocols, and even retrieve documents you thought had been permanently deleted. Your Facebook etiquette should reflect the type of behavior you would exhibit anytime you are in a public setting.

Your Facebook page can work as a tool, a place to contact others within your profession and as a means of letting others see the personal side of you behind the nurses uniform. You have the liberty to show your serious side, your outrageous sense of humor, to discuss moral and ethical problems and to demonstrate your compassion. Your Facebook page can be a valuable asset, similar to a good resume.