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Social Media & Nurses: Ethics, Strategies, and Impact

Anabel Hall, RN

Social media has become an integral part of our lives. It's a great tool that helps us stay connected with people from all over the world. During the COVID lockdown, it helped us keep in touch with others, especially when physical contact was impossible. However, social media can also be harmful if misused. As healthcare workers, it's essential to be careful with what we share on social media, as it can compromise our professional reputation. Using social media wisely and responsibly is crucial to avoid any negative consequences.

Much health-related content is available on social media platforms such as TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. This has led to increased attention towards healthcare workers, including nurses, who share their daily struggles and attempt to raise awareness about the challenges of working within the healthcare system. This type of content helps healthcare professionals feel heard and understood, particularly in nursing, where their hard work is often overlooked. It can inspire others, remind them of their reasons for pursuing this career, and make them feel like they are not alone in their experiences.

Social media is a double-edged sword with both pros and cons. Throughout this article, we'll delve deeper into both sides, presenting a compelling and convincing case for why it is vital to understand the impacts of social media in our lives.

The Use of Social Media as Inspiration

During the COVID situation in 2020, I remember feeling desperate, looking at my uniform hanging all ironed and clean, ready to go, and thinking, “Did I choose right? Am I capable of doing this under these special circumstances?”

Being the daughter of two people who served in the army, I remember asking my dad once as a child if it was easy to be in the army, and he said, “It is when it’s not wartime.” Well, I see myself as a different type of soldier, and a war was being fought in the corners of all the hospitals in the world. I remember we were scared. During my difficult times, I found solace in the stories of nurses who shared their experiences and challenges while working in similar situations. Through interviews and online communities, I connected with people from all over the world who were going through the same thing. It gave me hope and helped me keep going. Learning about all these people made me feel heard and appreciated. Somebody was going through the doubt, the fears, the hopelessness we felt, and they were okay. I understood that having something or someone to identify with can become a source of strength, a light in the dark – in the way Florence Nightingale’s lamp was for her patients during the Crimean War.

Then we have these videos of other nurses sharing some of their worst moments as nurses after rough shifts with difficult patients in a funny, laughable, and tolerable way. We say, “You know, it is hard, but it’s what we do, and we go through it at least making fun of it, laughing about it.” Nursing students also find motivation, as all this social media content is not only comedy but also helpful, professional content, such as the very popular “A day in the life of an ICU, med-surg, NICU RN-LPN, CNA, etc,” – which shows some of the personal routines these nurses have. This experience may even inspire a high school student to pursue a career in nursing.

There are many healthcare content creators out there catering to different audiences. Some are specifically designed for patients, while others are aimed at anyone who wants to learn something new. Some video reels focus on humor, while others are geared toward healthcare professionals. Regardless, all these videos are readily available, and their creators can publish whatever they want. It’s essential to keep in mind, however, that the use and misuse of any resource solely depends on the person using it. A very powerful tool used incorrectly or with the wrong purpose could be potentially dangerous.

The Dangers

Misinformation is a big deal these days. People share their opinions as if they're facts, lie outright, or hide important details to make their point or get more people interested. Even healthcare providers and nurses sometimes try to sell products or services that aren't what they claim to be. There is also a substantial issue of unlicensed, fraudulent healthcare professionals posing as if they are the real deal.

Social media has become a significant concern in the healthcare industry due to the risk of violating Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations, especially regarding patient privacy. If a nurse or any healthcare provider overshares little details about a patient's case or condition, it could lead to the patient feeling exposed or identified by their family and friends. This situation may cause others to become concerned about their own privacy and may lose trust in their healthcare providers. It is important to remember that such actions can have severe consequences and should be avoided at all costs.

People often use social media platforms to express their grievances about healthcare facilities and providers. One of the most common complaints is about alleged mistreatment or neglect by healthcare professionals. For instance, a patient might post about an action or procedure they believe was wrong or harmful and then receive a response from the healthcare provider or facility where they discredit the patient's claims. However, such responses may give an inaccurate picture of the situation. It's hard to tell if the patient's claims are valid or how the healthcare provider or facility handled the situation from such exchanges.

Keep It Clean

What would be the best approach to using this new communication pathway? Prudence, sense, and caution, even if we are just going to share it. If we are in the creating team, we will do well in researching our topics, using the correct referencing formats, and keeping in mind that we have a duty to our patients and the public in general, as they trust we have professional criteria and that we would only share what is accurate, factual, and in their benefit. Respect the patient's privacy and respect other healthcare workers and facilities.

Don’t lie or hide information to sell any product or service your patients don’t need. Remember that your degree or training costs you time, effort, money, and more. Don’t risk your license or professional reputation and ethics overviews and likes on social media, even if the views mean money or compensation. It is not worth it.

I want to encourage all nurses with an important message, talent, and time to share their knowledge as much as possible. Sharing is an easy, cheap, and viral way to educate the public, which is a nursing duty. It can prevent misinformation spread by uneducated sources, and it can range from helping nursing mothers breastfeed their newborns properly to caring for our mental health while working at the bedside as nurses. Social media can be an excellent tool to reach more people, raise awareness, and educate patients.

About the Author:

Anabel Cuervo Hall is an RN with a license to practice nursing in four countries and has published work in both Spanish and English. Her most important contribution has been to the Consultingroup College in Cuenca, Ecuador, where she authored and edited a series of books for the nursing program. Most of her work has been written in Spanish.

Anabel is an independent contributor to CEUfast’s Nursing Blog Program. Please note that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this blog post are solely of the independent contributor and do not necessarily represent those of CEUfast. This blog post is not medical advice. Always consult with your personal healthcare provider for any health-related questions or concerns.

If you want to learn more about CEUfast’s Nursing Blog Program or would like to submit a blog post for consideration, please visit

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