The use of Social Media amongst Nursing Staff offers both tremendous upsides as well as the accidental dissemination of confidential information. This essay compares the major advantages and pitfalls for nursing staff that decides to use Social Media as a help in their professional life.

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The benefits of Social Media for the Nursing profession
Social media provides an unprecedented level of professional exchange and education. People are not restricted to email for their communication, they can use apps like Facebook for sharing personal memories and connecting to friends and loved ones, Twitter for disseminating news, Instagram for sharing photos. These tools present great means of communication, the same as podcasts and YouTube videos are great ways to educate oneself and learn from each other. Moreover, many publishing houses offer peer-reviewed papers and reviews that can be easily accessed via Medline (pubmed.com). These aspects ensure that nurses are always up-to-date in their knowledge of treatment options. Moreover, they can share personal experiences with friends or other professionals via online message boards.

Coordination during disaster and psychologically demanding work
The ability to coordinate with other health care or nursing professionals is especially valuable in disaster areas, where help can get fast and efficiently coordinated, and for nurses that work in psychologically demanding fields like pediatric oncology or hospice care the contact to others can be a valuable mental, emotional and spiritual relief (Wahlberg et al., 2016).

Life-long learning and professional growth
The educational resources in Social Media even allow for lifelong learning. The open character of the internet leads to a constant intercultural exchange; the more people learn, the more they refine their knowledge, leading to a process of continuous learning and consequent professional growth (Future of Nursing Action Coalition, 2014; Hood, 2013)

The downsides of Social Media for the Nursing profession
Sharing information is convenient and fast and Social Media is pervasive, leading to a dissolution of personal and professional boundaries. There is no fail-safe mechanism or additional review before information is disseminated; sharing an idea or observation is just a ‘finger swipe’ or mouse click away. Once it has been shared though, it remains online – it is almost impossible to delete information once it is on the internet.

That is of course also true for confidential information. If the nurse is not careful, sensitive information is shared with the whole world in the blink of an eye, causing potential irreparable harm. For example, somebody’s disease, sexual preference or disability can be easily made public, and the affected individual loses control over this information.

Ethics violations
Ethics can also be violated, for example, when nurses decide to share confidential patient information with friends. Once again, once this information is shared, there is rarely a way to retrieve it, with the potential for enormous damage to the affected party (ethics paper).

Damage to Self-concept
From our habits, our personality develops. If we get used to sharing information via social media on a regular base, boundaries will dissolve, which becomes a problem when people start mixing their private and professional lives, potentially approaching patient confidentiality in a more cavalier mindset (Hood, 2013).

Conclusion
Social media offers a plethora of possibilities for life-long learning, communication and fast and efficient communication between caregivers. However, because of its convenience, sensitive information can be communicated just as easy as authorized information. Nurses and clinical departments need to be aware of both positive and negative sides of Social Media and ensure that HIPAA rules are kept while still allowing a smooth and flawless communication between the nursing staff.

    References
  • Future of Nursing Action Coalition (2014). The Massachusetts Nursing Core Competencies. Web. Retrieved from http://www.mass.edu/nahi/documents/Toolkit-First%20Edition-May%202014-r1.pdf
  • Hood, L. (2013) Leddy & Pepper’s Conceptual Bases of Professional Nursing. 8th Edition, LWW.
  • Pubmed.com (n.d.) Web. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/
  • Wahlberg, L., Nirenberg, A., Capezuti, E. (2016) Distress and Coping Self-Efficacy in Inpatient
    Oncology Nurses. Oncol. Nurs. Forum 43: 738 – 746.