Even though Facebook has only been in our lives since 2004, many people cannot imagine what they would do without it. After all, it’s a great way to share jokes, pictures, videos, and stories and to catch up with your friends and relatives from around the world. As a nurse, however, you must be careful about how you choose to use Facebook and other social media. Believe it or not, some nurses have used Facebook to share patient information and experiences from the workplace. They were, of course, fired for their indiscretion. Does this mean you should delete your Facebook page? That depends on you.
Confidentiality and Privacy
Can you maintain your patient’s confidentiality and privacy? Many nurses around the world have made the mistake of posting x-rays, photos, and stories of patients and procedures they have encountered. This is in clear violation of privacy laws and the nurse’s code of ethics. Remember that Facebook is for your personal entertainment and communication, not to share private information. If you wouldn’t put it in the local newspaper, don’t put it on Facebook either.
Nurses, like teachers, police officers, and certain other professionals, are held to a higher standard than other people. You must make sure you maintain your professional reputation at all times. If you like to share your true self on Facebook, avoid befriending patients and their families or others you have a professional relationship with. Stick to friends and family and keep your privacy settings so there is very limited access to your information. If you are unable to have a Facebook account without compromising your professional image or reputation, it’s probably a good idea to delete it altogether. If you keep it, think about everything you post beforehand. If you would be embarrassed for your boss to see it, don’t post it.
Do you check your Facebook during working hours? If so, you may need to leave it alone. You are being paid to work, not check on your friends or update your status. Restrict your Facebook activity to your personal time to avoid problems with your employer. This is a good rule of thumb for workers in all occupations.
What You Can Do
Besides just using your common sense and professional judgment when using Facebook and other social media, you can take steps to help your fellow nurses avoid problems. Talk with your HR department about having a Social Media privacy training session so everyone will know what is and is not acceptable. This is much more desirable than watching your coworkers face disciplinary actions because they made an innocent mistake.
If Facebook has you a little nervous and you are not sure what is okay, talk to HR for guidelines. In addition, always err on the side of caution. If you have to wonder if a post is appropriate, don’t make it. While it can be irritating to watch your every word and move on Facebook, it is worth it to preserve your reputation and employment.