During our first semester of nursing school, we have learned a lot about professionalism in the nursing role. One of the topics that has come up often in class and in discussion is the use of social media. Today, social media is used by so many in our generation and is a hot topic issue among the health care professions. Most people use some degree of social media everyday (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.). It provides a space for people to share feelings and personal stories. However, using social media in a clinical setting can carry serious implications.
I chose the article “#Boundaries: When patients become friends.” I found this article and topic fascinating. Most of us use social media but don’t often think about the implications it could have on our nursing career or even just in nursing school. Often things posted on social media may seem very innocent but can cause serious harm to ourselves and our patients if we are not careful. Most people think privacy features on social media will protect them. However, people can share posts, screenshot images, and forward them to others. Once you post something on social media, it is there and available forever.
This particular article addresses the “nurses’ responsibility to maintain boundaries and the potential risk to the professional image.” (cite article) It talks about the importance of not becoming “friends” with patients or the family members of the patient. By becoming “friends” with the family or patient, they are able to view everything on your social media site. They may view something that they believe will interfere with the care of their loved one. This can be brought to the attention of the nursing supervisor and you can be removed from caring for that patient. Something as innocent as posting that you were out late the night before, the patient can report this to the charge nurse and have you re-assigned because they believe you will not provide them adequate care because you may be tired.
The article also talks about the use of social media and how it can lead to breaches in privacy and confidentiality. Even when posting non-descript patient information on social media, it can lead to an unintentional breach of confidentiality. We have a duty to each patient to protect their privacy. As the article states, “When engaging in personal social media use, nurses must consider not only the privacy of the patients, but also the implications for the professional image of themselves and anyone potentially linked to their posts.” (Slobogian, V., Giles, J., & Rent, T., 2017, para 7). When we breach patient confidentiality, it exposes us to increased scrutiny in the public’s eye. (Slobogian, V., Giles, J., & Rent, T., 2017, para 7). This is so important because nursing is finally recognized as a profession and we don’t want to jeopardize the way the public views nursing.
I understand how social media and breaches of confidentiality can affect the professionalism of the nurse. I believe many people can be careless with their social media, often not realizing that they are affecting the way the public views nurses. As our textbook says “Patient confidentiality is a sacred trust. HIPAA establishes the basis for privacy and confidentiality concerns, viewed as two basic rights within the U.S. health care setting. (Potter, Perry, Stockert, Hall, & Ostendorf, 2017, p. 306).” If we break that trust, then we are damaging the image of nursing in the eyes of the patient and their family. We must always keep the patient and the family at the forefront of everything we do. We are patient-centered, and our actions should reflect that.
My perception of the nursing role in regard to professionalism has not changed that dramatically. I understand the importance of professionalism and the role of the nurse. I am surprised that it has taken so long for nursing to be named a profession. It is our responsibility to uphold that image and it is our duty to provide excellent care and be professional in all things we do. We must always be mindful of our actions and words no matter our environment. We must portray the image of nursing in a positive way. I am proud to say that I am a nursing student and am glad to have chosen this career path. As a nursing student, we must conduct ourselves in a responsible and be respectful of the patients we encounter in the clinical setting. We must always keep confidentiality top of mind allowing ourselves not to post anything about our experiences on social media or even discuss them with friends and family.
In conclusion, social media within the healthcare profession, especially nursing, is a hot topic issue. If you are not careful, social media can lead to breaches of confidentiality and privacy of the patient. We must always be cognizant of what we are posting and how others will perceive it. We must not blur the lines of the patient-nurse relationship, accepting “friend” requests from the patient and patient’s family. We are under scrutiny all the time and if we do not present ourselves in a professional manner, then it can damage the image of nursing in the publics eye. “As a profession, we are held to a very high ethical standard to protect our client’s confidentiality. We must be very attentive to our actions.” (Cherry & Jacob, 2017, p. 345)