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Social Media and Nursing: Tips for Nurses to Promote Health Online

July 8, 2020  |  Category: Nursing

Nurse and patient sit in doctor’s office looking at a tablet.

According to GlobalWebIndex, 97% of internet users are on social media. People around the world use social media platforms to connect with other people on a social, as well as professional, level. In fact, industries ranging from politics to healthcare are turning to social media to expand their platforms.

Because of this, social media has become a popular tool among nurses and healthcare professionals who want to help educate patients — and stop the spread of misinformation — online.

Social Media and Healthcare

While medical knowledge was beyond the reach of many people for most of history, the internet and social media have made healthcare information readily available to the public. Rather than making frequent trips to the doctor, more people are starting to conduct their own research from home before visiting a medical professional. In fact, 91% of participants in a Wego Health study claimed to rely on online platforms when making decisions about their health.

This method of medical care is particularly popular with individuals in younger generations, including millennials and Gen Zers. According to a Forbes article, 93% of millennials don’t schedule regular appointments with primary healthcare providers, but rather look for health advice online. Since a significant number of individuals seek out medical answers, advice and support online, the relationship between social media and nursing is gaining relevance.

Social Media Tips for Nurses

Social media is becoming an integral aspect of the healthcare industry. Since navigating social media in a nursing career can introduce a variety of benefits and challenges, here are a few tips for nurses seeking to educate patients and promote wellness online:

Adhere to HIPAA

Nurses and other healthcare professionals must operate within specific legal and professional parameters in their medical facilities, so it’s crucial that nurses operate within these same parameters online. One of the most important standards in healthcare facilities is compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HIPAA regulations ensure the protection and security of patient information and records.

For example, when it comes to social media and nursing, nurses may have a desire to post pictures with or talk about patients they’ve developed relationships with. However, nurses can’t legally give out information pertaining to a patient’s name, date of birth, medical condition, personal records, healthcare provider, insurance carrier, or other related information.

As a rule, nurses should play it safe when it comes to posting on their social media accounts and avoid disclosing any information about their patients. Since HIPAA compliance is necessary in a healthcare facility, nurse educators and other nurse leaders can help registered nurses better understand how to use social media in their jobs, while staying within HIPAA guidelines.

Conduct Research and Educate Patients

When it comes to information sharing, social media and the internet are unparalleled. Nurses interested in learning more about specific healthcare topics, medical practices, or health conditions, can take advantage of a vast pool of credible online sources.

Nurses can not only use online platforms as a way of honing their own expertise but can also use them to help spread valuable health information to the public. Many nurses write articles, create videos, and share social media posts designed to increase awareness of a particular health topic. Nurses can post this content to LinkedIn and YouTube where they can build their professional reputation and expand their network. Partnering with other healthcare providers, like influencers who are nutritionists and health coaches, can also help nurses increase their presence on social media platforms.

However, nurses should use caution when sharing any specific health advice. Their advice needs to be backed by credible research and they should encourage social media users to consult their primary care providers before making any changes to their medications, diets, exercise plans, or medical routines.

Cultivate Community

Social media and nursing can be a powerful tool for nurses looking for community support. Nurses can use social media platforms to connect with one another, collaborate on research, and offer professional support. Since nurses often work long shifts in stressful environments, it can benefit them to be part of a community of nurses who support one another.

Nurses can connect with one another in nurse-specific groups across different social media platforms. Registered nurses who have questions about a specialty position or who are interested in earning an advanced degree, can also use social platforms to connect with industry mentors.

Pursue an Advanced Nursing Role

Navigating the changing landscape of social media can be difficult, so it is important for nurses-to-be to receive training in these areas. Nurse educators who understand how to effectively use social media can provide guidance on best practices.

While nurses working with patients in person will always be an integral aspect of healthcare, social media and nursing can help improve the lives of many patients who would otherwise not receive medical information. Just as other fields adapt to changes in technology, nurse educators, registered nurses, and other healthcare professionals should also adapt to more social media-based health strategies.

Nurses can take on leadership roles in the field, such as the role of nurse educator, by pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing Education, acquiring new skills they can implement in their healthcare facilities and on social media.

Pursue a Career in Nursing

Current nurses and nursing students interested in the relationship between social media and nursing can broaden their knowledge of modern nursing techniques, as well as expand their career horizons, by pursuing an advanced degree.

Through classes such as Informatics and Quality Management, Teaching Methods and Strategies, Learning Assessment and Evaluation, and Educator Practice Teaching Immersion, students in AdventHealth University Online’s Master of Science in Nursing – Education Track hone the skills they need to help other nurses support the health and wellness of their communities.

Recommended Readings

BSN vs MSN: What’s the Right Path for You?

Nursing Career Paths: What You Can Do with a BSN or MSN Degree

Seven Effective Leadership Styles in Nursing

Sources:

EveryNurse, How Nurses Should Be Using Social Media

Forbes, “Can Social Media Have A Positive Impact on Global Healthcare?”

HealthManagement.org, “Social Media in Healthcare: Opportunities and Challenges”

HIPAA Journal, HIPAA Compliance Checklist 2019-2020

NCSBN, A Nurse’s Guide to the Use of Social Media

Wego Health, “50 Social Media Healthcare Statistics to Watch”