This article was written on 03 Nov 2012, and is filled under Volume 16 Number 3.

Current post is tagged

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Are nurses challenging social media?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

by Renee M. Eggers, PhD – Guest Editor

& Dee McGonigle, PhD, RN, FAAN, CNE, Editor in Chief


Eggers, R. & McGonigle, D. (2012). Are nurses challenging social media? Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI), 16 (3), Available at  http://ojni.org/issues/?p=2030


Yes, social media is a topic that has been discussed and has exploded into the lives of nurses and the lives of their patients. The NCSBN (2012) discussed the expansion of social media

The use of social media and other electronic communication is expanding exponentially as the number social media outlets, platforms and applications available continue to increase. Individuals use blogs, social networking sites, video sites, online chat rooms and forums to communicate both personally and professionally with others. Social media is an exciting and valuable tool when used wisely (para. 1).

Ressler and Glazer (2012) stated that “Social media can be defined as the constellation of Internet-based tools that help a user to connect, collaborate, and communicate with others in real time….social media creates a social interaction or a conversation between users” (para. 2). Where are we going with all of the connectivity we are afforded through the social media tools?

As users of social media in both personal and professional lives, Nurses not only connect with colleagues but also with patients. The ANA (2012) discussed Facebook, Twitter, ANANurseSpace, YouTube and LinkedIn as ways to “connect with colleagues” (para. 1). According to Larson (2011), “Nurses are educators at heart, and social media outlets provide mechanisms for education. They can highlight their own areas of expertise and provide information on important health issues to a broader audience” (para. 26). Thompson (2012) pointed out that the “Bottom line is that our public is on social media. Whether we like it or not, nurses need to be too! After all, we are in the best position to influence patient decisions” (para. 10). The American Nurse (2012), the official publication of the American Nurses Association, stated “Social networking can be a positive tool that fosters professional connections, enriches a nurse’s knowledge base, and promotes timely communication with patients and family members” (para. 3).

We are seeing potent connections between our physical and digital worlds. A long time ago we dealt with voice mail and then email. Now, we are quite mobile with our apps and hot spot Internet connectivity.

Nurses are sometimes overwhelmed with the connectivity, as well as when and what information they should share with their patients and their significant others. Son (2011) stated “Being online has responsibilities and consequences, no doubt” (para. 3). Guidelines have been developed and revised based on professional organizations and practice settings. “The American Nurses Association (ANA) and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN®) have mutually endorsed each organization’s guidelines for upholding professional boundaries in a social networking environment” (The American Nurse, 2012, para. 1). Son (2011) stated “The intersection of social media and privacy has made an older generation, and even some of my own generation, incredibly uncomfortable…..There is an idea that the blurring of intimate boundaries will come back and bite a whole generation” (para. 1). Some of an institution’s standards or restrictions can be very limiting. As social practice and presence evolves, so will understanding of its impact on patients and their health status. As nurses are drawn into the social media world and share their expertise, think about the influence they can have on the health and wellness of patients, families, communities and populations.

Nurses must be aware of public persona and not share things that do not reflect them in a professional manner. There are horror stories about inappropriate information about nurses or their patients being shared. Nurses want to embrace the immediacy of real-time information interchange while maintaining a professional demeanor and protecting the privacy of patients and themselves.

So, where are we going with social media? Nursing professionals are beginning to meaningfully share nursing innovations and ideas while continuing to build a social media empowered healthcare delivery system fostering collaborative interaction and outreach to consumers, the patients. This helps to enhance the connection to the patients and extend nurses’ reach to those who might not seek healthcare advice or information in order to make informed decisions. You can establish, measure, and manage relationships with colleagues and patients while trying not to disrupt their lives. The dashboards that nurses are using will be more flexible and mobile. Nurses are already beginning to see the trend of moving from face-2-face to non-face-2-face or virtual relationships. From sharing, teaching and learning through support and collegiality, social media globally connects nurses, who can literally interact with anyone in the world. We have provided a brief listing of both social media and analytic tools. We challenge you to discover new ways to interact with and stay connected to patients and colleagues.

 Brief List of Social Media Tools:


Alltop – http://alltop.com/

Delicious – http://delicious.com/

Dim-Dim – http://www.dimdim.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/

Flickr – http://www.flickr.com/

Instagram – http://instagram.com/

Jott – http://jott.com

LinkedIn – http://linkedin.com

Ning – http://ning.com

Skype – http://www.skype.com/

Slideshare – http://www.slideshare.net/

Socialcam – http://socialcam.com/

Toodledo – http://www.toodledo.com/

Tumblr – https://www.tumblr.com/

Twitter – http://twitter.com

YouTube – http://youtube.com

Zoho – http://www.zoho.com/

Brief List of Analytics for Social Media

Blekko – http://blekko.com/

Blogsearch.Google – http://www.google.com/blogsearch

Google Analytics – http://www.google.com/analytics/

Klout – http://klout.com

Kurrently – http://www.kurrently.com/

Twitterfall – http://twitterfall.com/



American Nurses Association (ANA). (2012). ANA on social media. Retrieved from http://www.nursingworld.org/socialmedia

Larson, J. (2011. New principles guide nurses in using social media. Retrieved from http://www.nursezone.com/Nursing-News-Events/more-news/New-Principles-Guide-Nurses-in-Using-Social-Media_38004.aspx

National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). (2012). Social media guidelines. Retrieved from https://www.ncsbn.org/2930.htm

Ressler, P., & Glazer, G., (2010). Legislative: Nursing’s engagement in health policy and healthcare through social media. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 16 (1). Retrieved from http://www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ANAMarketplace/ANAPeriodicals/OJIN/TableofContents/Vol-16-2011/No1-Jan-2011/Health-Policy-and-Healthcare-Through-Social-Media.aspx

Son, C. (2011). Social media should be embraced by health care. Retrieved from http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2011/01/social-media-embraced-health-care.html

The American Nurse. (2012). Uniting on social media guidelines. Retrieved from http://www.theamericannurse.org/index.php/2011/12/05/uniting-on-social-media-guidelines/

Thompson, R. (2012). Social media in nursing: Five steps to make sure we’re not left behind again. Retrieved from http://www.wphospitalnews.com/social-media-in-nursing/

Back to Issue Index

Back to Issue Index

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.