Nurses and social networking sites (Facebook, Myspace, etc)

Nurses General Nursing

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Hi Everyone. I just wanted to get other people's views on something. I graduated from nursing school 5 years ago and like almost everyone (including my mother now...) I have a Facebook page. It is kept on full privacy settings, etc. Now...the hospital where I am currently working (and teaching) of course has some very long term patients (I work in Pediatrics). I have noticed that some of the nursing and support staff have become "friends" with patients (and even their parents) on Facebook. This just struck me as really odd. What are *your* thoughts?

For me, personally, I like to know my patients in the hospital. If I bump into them outside, fine, but I don't want to be connected to them 24/7 and them having access to all of my personal information and photos. For me, it's a social networking site. I may socialize and make friends with coworkers @ work, but it's still work.

So....nurses and patients being "friends" on social networking sites? Does it cross the line or is it a gray area? Was it unavoidable with the abundance of people on those sites now? Thanks for letting me pick your brain:specs:

shoegalRN, RN

1,338 Posts

I'm a new grad and I have a facebook page that is set to private and only seen by my friends, not friends of friends.

And I think it's crossing the line to have your patients or their parents as facebook friends.

I believe in keeping my personal life separate from work. Majority of my FB friends are my old high school classmates, along with my nursing school pals and some of my old co-workers I used to work with in my previous career. I have pictures on my FB page that shows the "fun" side of me, like riding on the back of a motorcycle and Girls Night Out. I don't think it's approriate for my "patients" to see that. And it not nothing "unclassy", it's just that my personal life is one thing, work life is another.

That's my opinion.

allnurses Guide

NurseCard, ADN

2,847 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surge, Psych, LTC, Home Health.

I find it inappropriate. Most people would say that it is; others would say that those sites have become so common that it's practically unavoidable. Still others in your particular facility might say that having such friendships with LONG term patients and families really isn't inappropriate at all. Then there are others who have said that they have actually created Facebook and MySpace accounts JUST so their former patients could kinda keep in touch.

I dunno. Again, I find it inappropriate, and I have worked with patients over long periods of time. However, I also find it somewhat inappropriate for teachers to "friend" current students. Former students, maybe not so much.

running_nurse

50 Posts

Specializes in Pediatrics.
I find it inappropriate. Most people would say that it is; others would say that those sites have become so common that it's practically unavoidable. Still others in your particular facility might say that having such friendships with LONG term patients and families really isn't inappropriate at all. Then there are others who have said that they have actually created Facebook and MySpace accounts JUST so their former patients could kinda keep in touch.

I dunno. Again, I find it inappropriate, and I have worked with patients over long periods of time. However, I also find it somewhat inappropriate for teachers to "friend" current students. Former students, maybe not so much.

Oh yes. One of my closest friends is a HS english teacher. She had Facebook for maybe a week and deleted it entirely. Even with privacy settings she hated that her students would find her and send her a friend request. I'm a clinical instructor and I would definitely not want my students to be my "friend." Not that my FB has anything bad on it....but my private life is....private!

Specializes in Pediatrics.

Some people I know at work become "friends" with patients or their families on these websites. I just don't find it appropriate... feel like it crosses some boundaries. (Wow that sounds stuffy, doesn't it!) That's not the kind of relationship I want to have with patients or their families, as much as I do love some of them... feel like I'd be intruding on them and at the same time they'd be seeing a little too much of my personal life.

HM2VikingRN, RN

4,700 Posts

Real boundary violations..I don't think that this is healthy for either the nurse or the patient.

Specializes in ER, TRAUMA, MED-SURG.

Hey - Just me, maybe, but it crosses some boundaries with me too. It doesn't bother some people, but I just can't go there. I am on myspace and facebook, but more active on facebook. On fb, I have maybe 2 friends who are docs I used to work with, but I haven't worked with them in quite a while. I am relatively new to fb, so I had already changed jobs before getting on it.

Like I said, just my opinion, I'm sure other people have different ideas.

Anne, RNC

Elvish, BSN, DNP, RN, NP

4 Articles; 5,259 Posts

Specializes in Community, OB, Nursery.

I am friends with some people from work - meaning coworkers. Supervisors, patients, and docs are a no. Actually, it might depend on the doc, but generally speaking, no. There are a couple docs that I know and like on a personal level but am fine w/ them either being my fb friends - or not.

Try really hard not to crap where I eat, y'know?

Andrew, RN

93 Posts

Specializes in Pyschiatry/Behavioral (Inpatient).

My boss tried adding me on Facebook before.... DENIED! hahahaha

I don't think I would ever befriend a patient on an internet site. It would only be a matter of time before they start asking for medical advice. While it would be nice to see the improvement in a patient, there needs to be some sort of line drawn.

I have a myspace and a facebook also. My myspace is strictly my "private" life. My facebook page is a little bit more of a professional communications tool. (Like with classmates and program personnel)..... I just make sure to keep that one "clean" of any "girls night out" photos or things like that.

I think this is an issue that needs to be addressed to incoming nursing students. I know everyone has a private life and are entitled to their fun, but do you really want someone coming across pictures of you bartending and drinking while scantily clad on the internet? It's a shame that I know a nursing student whose facebook consists of just that!!!!!!!!

Specializes in Neuroscience/Neuro-surgery/Med-Surgical/.

We had HR send out an email about being on internet social networking sites. Basically, they didnt want us to be making any negative statements about work....and to be careful of the kinds of pics we posted on it.

One RN got fired after she posted a pic of her being silly at work wearing goggles and an adult diaper over her scrubs...that had the work logo on it! Immediately FIRED! No warning, no suspension...just fired. We were told that it was considered theft, using those items and that it was a negative representation of the hospital.

Specializes in Case Mgmt, Anesthesia, ICU, ER, Dialysis.

I will admit that I am friends with my head nurse and assistant nurse manager on FB...we're a very cohesive ICU, and I am not a discipline/attendance/attitude problem. Everyone in my unit is all friends with each other, management included, but we don't discuss work on there, at all - unwritten rule. It works for us, but I can see where we are the exception, not the rule.

As for patients - for your short term, acute patients, absolutely, it is inappropriate to friend them. I worked dialysis for 13 years, however, and I have 3 former dialysis patients that I have known through thick and thin. All 3 have gotten transplants, and this is how we stay in touch. We don't socialize except at NKF functions, but you don't spent that much time, effort and energy getting someone on the transplant list, support them through that first few years post-transplant and not want to see the continued fruits of your labor. They are all college-educated, professionals, and very much understand the boundaries to be maintained - but by the same token, they all have my address and phone number, too, and I'm OK with that. If they ever needed anything, I'd be there for them as a friend in a heartbeat.

It depends on the person and the nature of the contact, IMHO.

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