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Me, myself and Facebook


Facebook, hands up who doesn't have an account???

Specializes in RN, BSN, CHDN. Has 26 years experience.

Me, myself and Facebook

It appears our new life is now being controlled by this new phenomenon which had dragged many people into the 21st Century it can be fun, exciting and enables us to catch up with friends and family we may have lost touch with over the years. If you haven't been exposed to Facebook then you are probably dead or deep in a coma, and everybody has an opinion on it.

Businesses are thriving from advertising on facebooks, hundreds of jobs are being generated from it,

On the other hand it can be a very dangerous tool which is causing world wide discussions, new policies are being written and developed daily by companies to protect their workplace. Everyday we hear about problems being caused by this seemingly innocent pastime.

Employees are being fired for discussing work, or playing on there when they are off sick and somebody has seen the time and date you were on line.

Nurses are often in the spotlight because of confidentiality and the vulnerable nature of their job. Some people/patients believe that we 'the nurse' are their friends because of the care we give them during their sickness, they always remember our names when they meet us outside the hospital but how many of us remember our patients names?

In reality we are not their friends, it is our job to be kind and caring and to know everything about that patient in order to decide how best to serve them. We know their name, their age, their family members, their illnesses past and present, their job and job status, who lives with them, how many kids they have the list is endless. They share so much information with us, and to show we are interested and care we remember during their hospital stay to ask after their spouses and children each new day we look after them. So it is no wonder the line between us becomes smudged, of course we are just in the process of making the patient feel at home, to relax so that the quality of care is excellent and as we move on from room to room we hope we are doing a good job, but for some patients it must be difficult to understand or comprehend that once we leave work and go home, we leave the pts behind us, and we go on with 'normal' life.

Now we have a new concern patients want to befriend us on facebook. I for one couldnt count how many patients I have looked after in 20yrs, imagine if every other pt wanted to be my friend on Facebook-well I am just laughing out loud at the thought of it. Over the years I have met many wonderful people/patients, some who will be embedded in my memory forever, a lot who I thrust out of my mind as soon as possible and some whom I love to dread should I ever see again in my lifetime.

Here on allnurses there are heated debates concerned with such topics as "Facebook at work" "Do you add patients as your Facebook Friend"

It is an ethical and moral dilemma that should be easy to answer 'NO' you should never add a patient as a friend on facebook but like most ethical and moral dilemma;s there is never an easy answer is there?

I looked after a pt back in England for a year he had 'locked in syndrome' and eventually learned to communicate by computer he was a young patient in his early 40's. When I moved to the USA he asked me to email him which I did and still do 5 years on. It has been a very innocent relationship, he is housebound, wheelchair bound and socially isolated by his illness, his only pleasure is his computer and I have noticed recently that the emails are few and far between. I would probably not kept in touch had I lived back in the UK but felt safe being 3000 miles away and knowing his condition. I will never regret this relationship but I doubt I would have him as a facebook friend as to enjoy the site you have to have total freedom in what you communicate as it is totally open to the world.

I read on a thread today that a nurse communicated with her friend on Fb and a pt she had recently looked after was also friendly with the same friend, this pt then made a comment back to the nurse via the mutual friends page! I found this to be a little scary, we do not realize what a small world we live in.

Another friend of mine a Doctor back in the UK recently told me of something which happened to him on FB his great grandfather translated passages from the Koran and he photographed the pages to show how beautiful the writing was. This was accessed by somebody via a friend via another friend and he was subjected to racial abuse. I then went on and checked my privacy status and found my photo albums were open to everybody on facebook and I had to go in and edit each and every photo-it was not obvious by just checking the privacy you had to go into the albums themselves.

I don't know about you but I don't want my patients or my employers to view my photo's on facebook most of them are of myself, my family and friends enjoying themselves, some with drink in hand LOL. A lot of photo's are not work suitable, especially when you do education re dieting, alcohol use, smoking cessation, limitation of exposure to sun. A lot of photos contain pictures of people indulging themselves in activities you frown on in your professional life but it real life these are the photo's you love to share.

I have hundreds of fun in the sun photo's, beer in the bbq, funny photos of people falling over and everybody laughing the list is endless isn't it. But we wouldn't want our pts to disrespect us because of our home life, would we.

I think facebook is fun but it is about my personal life I want to keep it that way and I don't want to share it with my patients.

RN with 26 years of experience many of those years spent in dialysis. I have worked in acute care, home, ICHD as a CN, FA, and currently a director.

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38 Comment(s)

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN, CNS

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 27 years experience.

Good points....I do have a FB account but absolutely no pics except very innocuous ones. I am very careful what I put on FB too - just very general stuff, nothing too personal.

You always have to be careful.

CrunchRN, ADN, RN

Specializes in Clinical Research, Outpt Women's Health. Has 25 years experience.

Yep. Only a few very careful pics. Rare comments that are totally innocent.

I know of a teacher who got fired because she had FB pictures with her drinking wine! That is so wrong. If i ever have any doubt or anything negative i will just inactivate the whole thing. I also never accept any friends unless I know who they are and that they will not post anything inappropriate....


Specializes in acute rehab, med surg, LTC, peds, home c. Has 16 years experience.

You cant always control who sees what on fb. You can to acertain degree but people share their passwords and you never know who knows who and etc. If it cant be viewed by anyone and everyone then don't post it on the internet. If you wouldn't show the pics or say the words in front of your grandma or a priest, then dont post it on FB. It is that simple.


Specializes in mental health. Has 3 years experience.

I have only ever had one former client who eventually became a friend and that too was a situation of extreme isolation on account of being disabled. She needed people to talk to on the phone occasionally since she could not physically be around anybody. When she asked if she could put me on her once a week call list, I had agreed as long as I could be honest with her and tell her if it wasn't a good time to talk, and as long as she did not use me in my professional role since I had no desire to work unpaid from home.

For the first couple of years, the client-professional relationship still remained, from my side, in that I never said anything very personal about myself, but eventually I saw what excellent boundaries she had and I was able to trust both her and myself to maintain those healthy boundaries. It's been about 12 years now, and I still talk to her 2 or 3 times a year.

So I think it can work, but I think one has to be very, very cautious and exercise really good judgment. Which one has to do with Facebook anyway. I never put anything on there that I wouldn't want my nursing instructors or future employers/coworkers to know. And since there is no discrepancy between my personal and professional life (such as with respect to drinking, smoking or other lifestyle choices), that isn't really an issue for me.

One idea that struck me reading this post - if we all lived our lives as if our facebook pages weren't private, would we live any differently?!

I'll raise my hand :) -- I don't participate in any of the "social networking" sites, and have no interest in doing so.

Old and New

Specializes in Geri-psych Nursing. Has 3 years experience.

I spend quite a bit of time on Facebook, because it's helped me stay in touch with people in the various places I've lived. On the other hand, I would never "friend" a patient, and I've "un-friended" most of my coworkers. I like to keep work and home separate. The politics of a workplace don't mix with expressing myself freely to friends, even if I don't have anything to hide.


Specializes in Critical Care, Education, and Acute Care.

Something else about Facebook that reared its ugly head at my workplace recently: two nurses were fired for discussing a patient and using the patient's name. How clueless do you have to be to forget about privacy laws? Another employee was fired for speaking about the hospital we work at in a disrespectful way. I guess they had had a bad day and became a bit too expressive about it on Facebook. That generated yet another bad day for them.

Facebook is a public forum and your name is attached to everything you put there. A good rule of thumb is to think to yourself "Is what I'm about to post something I would put on an interstate billboard?"

In truth, a couple hundred interstate billboards might come closer to approaching the amount of traffic that is actually on Facebook.

Remember all that stuff we learned in kindergarten about being nice and respecting each other? Well, this is why we learned it.

I read your posting and at first thought, what a slug am I if I have not embraced this wonderful technology. Then as your story went on I realized why. As a nurse finishing her master's degree and applying for jobs as a nursing instructor I for sure do not want any of my photos out there, only because I wonder what employers will think of my friends, not that I partake in any activites that could be fun and recreational. So sorry facebook you will have to wait til I find a job! Loved your take on it,so until the job search is over I will blog anonymously. :D


Specializes in ICU, M/S, Psych, Tele.. Has 15 years experience.

I am so glad that we are becoming aware of the effect of social websites and their impact on us professionally. I removed all of the information on my fb page...

I dont know about you but I dont want my patients or my employers to view my photo's on facebook most of them are of myself, my family and friends enjoying themselves, some with drink in hand LOL. A lot of photo's are not work suitable, I think facebook is fun but it is about my personal life I want to keep it that way and I dont want to share it with my patients.

I like Facebook. I only have limited info. on my profile myself. But, just to let you know... You can group your friends and limit their access to your info. For example, Group A (allowed to see ALL your wall AND ALL of your pictures). Group B (ONLY what you posts and limited wall info.). I don't think there's a limit on the number of groups. Also, on the picture settings: Let's say --> you played one weekend and you have pictures that showed more 'skin'. You CAN limit viewing access to THESE pictures ONLY for a certain individual or ONLY for a certain group of people. The rest of your other friends/relatives/family/etc. won't be able to see any of them. But, the first step is, you have to put people in groups.

Facebook is a fun playground. I don't really have much stuff on mine, since I hadn't worked on it more. I was addicted to FB for a good on and off four months last year? I got over it. It became boring after a while, maybe because I don't play the games. More and more people I know seem to be addicted to Farmville, I don't know why.

Facebook still has me hope i will get off the hook soon

help am addicted to farmvile

Hey Shirly23,

lol, I've had numerous invites for farmville, mafia wars, pet society and yoville. I finally accepted Farmville the other day, I only stayed for about 5 to 6 minutes on the very FIRST screen. My cousin said that I'm suppose to choose an avatar and set up my field. I guess Farmville gives people a certain number of land and then people can accumulate $$ and points. Anyway, the "land" that was being given to me just looked like, it REQUIRED a lot of work! I thought, my life didn't need anymore stress! Why would I want to work on facebook? Sheesh... so, I'm done with Farmville --- I already did my 5-minute tour!

i was reading some achieves regarding immigrant visa to canada etc and it sounds weird. people really do not seek right information's and even when the so called agency tell you things,you should research.ddnt need the service of any agency to work it out and been here for 8 years,but in some cases the services of agency is needed for guidance but if you smart enough then do your thing your way .federal skill program visa these days do not get as hard as we think.


Edited by shirly23

i love this forum and am here to interact with fellow nurses.didnt sign up to exchange words that will upset anyone,talking of immigration i just thought i should share and if it upset anyone probably cos i posted it under some1"s topic, then apology!.

I too have a FB account and am worried about 'slipping up' and posting a picture or something that i wouldn't want everyone and their mother to see. I think i'll go 'unfriend' some people that i don't need to be friends with and triple check ALL of my privacy settings. It's too easy to make a mistake that could cause me big problems. THank you for your thoughts and putting it into perspective. it also helps to hear first hand stories of RNs being fired for something as dumb as FB posts. ridiculous.

On a side note i think its stupid to be in trouble for being online when calling in sick. Being on a computer mindlessly reading a page or two is totally possibly to do lying sick in bed!

I work in a small community home for physically disabled people, and the facebook drama is endless! All of my co-workers have each other AND our manager as a "friend" and are far too open about their partying and drinking escapades (to the point of calling in sick for work and writing large posts about how hung over they are because they were partying with so-and-so last night). Everyday that I hear about something like this I am happy that I never got on to it.

The fact that our manager is a "friend" of most of my co-workers also poses and interesting ethical dilemma...

How many times have we heard of someone being fired based on information or pictures from facebook and been outraged at the injustice of it all? Surely your employer has no place to tell you what you may and may not do in your private life??

But in the case given above, when people are calling in sick, or coming to work hung-over, or making up lies about family and friends who are sick/dying/injured to get out of work... does not the manager have a moral imperative to monitor these problems and discipline the employees accordingly?

I'm not what the answer to that is, but the situation is surely frustrating!!