Nurses and Social Media


I recently participated in a live Twitter Chat called Where are the Nurses? I think I saw it promoted on Twitter, but I can’t even remember for sure. Regardless, it piqued my interest and I joined in. The discussion was about nurses in leadership and in social media.

I’m a nurse and certified diabetes educator, and I’ve been engaged in social media since about 2008. That is when I joined Facebook to connect with friends – not at all related to my professional work. Then in 2011 I started a website with a blog because I was about to publish a book and was told I needed to have a blog. I soon became involved in what is called the Diabetes Online Community (DOC), which is made up of blogs, social networks, websites, and more – for, by, and about people with diabetes.

Shortly after that I created a “business page” on Facebook, where I started sharing diabetes-related items & information that I thought people would enjoy. Then I joined LinkedIn and Twitter. Yikes! But for a long time I did not interact much with the “Twitter Universe/Twitterverse” or LinkedIn. I wasn’t even sure what the point was. What I’ve learned about LinkedIn is that it’s about professional networking. It’s a great place to look for positions and to find people to fill positions. I’ve had someone find me on LinkedIn and ask me to write a chapter in a book and another person ask me to be on an advisory board.

My kids are into Instagram and Snapchat. I think of those two social media platforms as being strictly for social interactions. I think of Facebook as being either/both personal or professional. And I think of LinkedIn as being more professional. Twitter can also be used for either/both. I use Twitter for professional interactions: I “tweet” my weekly blog post – to get it out there – and I participate in occasional twitter chats.

Until two weeks ago I had only participated in diabetes-related Twitter Chats (also, it turns out, referred to as “tweetchats”). The one I saw promoted in a tweet was called “Healthcare Leadership” with the hashtag #hcldr (a hashtag is a label for a specific topic – you can search for topics by entering hashtags into Twitter or you can follow/participate in certain discussions by including the hashtag in your tweets). Healthcare Leadership is a “weekly, educational tweetchat Tuesdays at 8:30 pm Eastern (North America).” What was so ironic about my experience participating in this nursing tweetchat, was that several of the people involved were directly related to the DOC and regularly participate in diabetes tweetchats! It truly is a small Twitterverse (despite millions of users).

One of the questions asked in the #hcldr chat was why aren’t more nurses involved in social media? Some obvious answers might be lack of time or interest, but other suggestions included concerns about privacy, liability and “enmeshment.” Here is an abridged transcript of that Twitter-based conversation.

Many nurses (including those who are reading this post) are involved in social media, while several others have not gotten there (yet). Some nurses may be using social media for personal reasons, but haven’t joined the professional side of it. It’s completely your choice about how you use social media. I acknowledge that it can take a lot of time. Time management skills are critical in nursing in general, let alone when using social media. But if you are looking for connections, or a new position, or simply want to reach out to discuss ideas, social media is a fabulous option.

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