At THMA Consulting, we are resolving in 2023 to advance the highest standards of practice in medical aesthetics. Patient care and safety within medical facilities is obviously imperative. Professionalism in social media is critically important, too.
Physicians share a responsibility for raising public perceptions about professionalism in medical aesthetics. But this Blog and the following article will concentrate on the role of nurses as influencers in the social media world.
The informative discussion presents benefits and cautions when it comes to our use of social media in promoting ourselves and our practices in medical aesthetics. Published for the Lippincott Nursing Center, nurse Elizabeth Wirth-Tomaszewski writes that “nurses are one of the most trusted professions in the world and we need to remain professional in this relatively new role.”
The Lippencott article makes these excellent points:
– Our professionalism can be demonstrated by integrity, education, and dissemination of knowledge as well as correction of misinformation.
– What might be entertaining to some nurses may be ill-received by others and can lead to a generalized perception of nursing as unprofessional, uncaring, or immature.
– Nursing has taken many decades to achieve being one of the most trusted and respected professions, and a careless post could unravel this progress.
– There is an ethical and legal responsibility to ensure one is providing accurate medical information to the public.
– Nurses as social influencers can combat medical disinformation with evidence-based education.
Nurses as Influencers: Extending Professionalism to the Social Media World
Courtesy of the Lippincott Nursing Center, Dec. 13 – (source link)
Almost half of the world’s population uses social media in one form or another, which has led to an increase in those who produce personal content providing one’s own point of view.
Nurses are becoming more active in the social media world as influencers; some are looked at as trusted professionals who can provide antidotes to medical misinformation, whereas others are seen as purely entertaining.
Truthfully, nurses can be both informative and entertaining, however, we must remember that nurses are one of the most trusted professions in the world and we need to remain professional in this relatively new role.
The Benefits of Nurses as Social Media Influencers
There are many benefits to having an audience of social media followers, but there some cautions as well. Our professionalism can be demonstrated by integrity, education, and dissemination of knowledge as well as correction of misinformation.
Influencers can be viewed as a source of accurate information for the public and other nurses. Social media can bridge some gaps, evade some conventional barriers that are present in healthcare information and reach colleagues that may not have the strongest network (Gentry& Prince-Paul, 2020; Bautista, Zhang & Gwizdka, 2021).
The role of nurses as social influencers can also combat medical disinformation with evidence-based education that can be targeted to other nurses or the public. Social media moves information at a fast pace, with images and data becoming viral in hours. This can work to our advantage as nurses, but also has disadvantages (Bautista, Zhang & Gwizdka, 2021).
The Cautions of Nurses as Social Media Influencers
The high visibility associated with social media also means that nurse influencers must understand that their audience is likely not limited to healthcare providers, but also lay persons who may misunderstand things like satire – which can be a form of misinformation.
Other unprofessional behaviors, such as bullying and blurring professional boundaries in presentation can detract from the positive benefits of nurses as influencers. These behaviors can result in loss of credibility and even legal/disciplinary consequences.
Also, there is a certain ethical (and legal) responsibility to ensure one is providing accurate medical information to the public. One example of this is a complaint filed in October 2022 regarding a California nurse practitioner with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree (DNP) who referred to herself as “Dr. Sarah” on social media but was not always clear that she was an advanced practice registered nurse and not a physician.
She has been fined $19,750 for the ambiguity and violation of the California State Business and Professions Code (Book, 2022).
Discretion and Digital Professionalism
Discretion is paramount in any case where a nurse would present themselves in their nursing role. Practical jokes which might be entertaining to some nurses may be ill-received by others and can lead to a generalized perception of nursing as unprofessional, uncaring, or immature.
They may even do irreparable harm to the individuals involved or the facility where it took place if it is able to be identified.
Social media has benefits, but also must be used with caution to preserve the integrity of the healthcare professions, including nursing. Unfortunately, the inappropriate actions of a few have eroded professional identities of many.
The concept of digital professionalism is becoming more important in the ever-expanding world of social media. Social media influencers, particularly those in healthcare, must remain mindful of their exposure to a variable audience who see them as professionals. Reputations can easily be damaged with misinformation or unprofessional behaviors.
Nursing has taken many decades to achieve being one of the most trusted and respected professions, and a careless post could unravel this progress in a single viral video (Guraya, Guraya & Yusoff, 2021).
Tips to Maintain Your Professional Identity on Social Media
Should you wish to post on social media as a representative of nursing, the following may be helpful in maintaining your professional identity:
- Maintain a professional demeanor. The internet is forever. Ensure your content is how you wish to be portrayed.
- Avoid work stories. There are often details that could identify the facility or the patient. Even leaving out a name does not protect the identity of someone with a rare condition or circumstance.
- Always present evidence-based information. This is important if your opinion or judgement comes into question.
- Follow your facility’s social media policies. Failure to follow these policies can lead to discipline or legal issues.
- If in doubt, don’t post!
– Elizabeth Wirth-Tomaszewski, DNP, RN, CRNP, CCRN, ACNP-BC, ACNPC