6 Positive Ways to Use Social Media in Your Nursing Practice

by Melissa Mills Melissa Mills, BSN

Specializes in Nurse Case Manager, Professor, Freelance Writer. Has 20 years experience.

The use of social media comes with many negative thoughts these days. But, what if you could use social media to improve your professional life and impact the outcomes of those care for, too? Learn six ways you can use social media to positively impact your nursing practice.

Do you have any ways to use social media in your practice?

6 Positive Ways to Use Social Media in Your Nursing Practice

You might think that social media is only for personal use. If you've heard about social media from a professional perspective, it may have been in a negative context. There are stories about employers looking at social media to make decisions concerning hiring, discipline, and even termination. But, what if I told you there are positive ways to use social media in your nursing practice - both with patients and from a career perspective?

Here are a few ways you can use social media in your nursing practice.

Social Media For Your Health and Career

Social media provides a connection, which we need with others to grow and thrive. Here are three ways you can use social media to meet your personal and professional goals.

1. Improve Your Personal Health

I love the saying, "You can't pour from an empty cup." Nurses pour their heart and soul into patient care and their companies every day. This means, you have to fill up on positive, healthy habits, and social media can help. You can find Facebook groups and Instagram accounts to support you through healthy habits such as weight loss, life events, and healthy cooking.

2. Strengthen Your Professional Development

No matter where you are on your nursing journey, social media can help your professional development. Nursing students can use social media to obtain knowledge and learn skills needed for clinical practice through Youtube channels made just for them. As a bedside clinician, you can connect with Facebook groups, Instagram accounts, and Youtube channels that provide continuing education on the latest research, technology, and evidence-based practices.

You can also link to professional organizations and universities for continuing education opportunities and social networking. You have endless possibilities for career development when you search out the right connections on social networking sites.

3. Connect with Other Professionals

Life isn't meant to be lived in a silo. Whether you are a new or tenured nurse, you need social and professional connections to continue to grow in your nursing practice. Connect with other nurses for professional help and support. Follow nurses or other healthcare professionals that inspire or motivate you, such as speakers or writers that you enjoy. Find them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn for a continuous stream of inspiration.

Social Media to Improve Patient Care

Nurses shouldn't connect with patients through social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram. However, you can teach your patients how to social media to communicate with healthcare organizations and information.

4. Lead Patients to Trustworthy Information

The National Institute of Health (NIH) reports that about one-third of American adults use social networking sites for health information. Here are a few tips from the NIH that you can teach your patients when they search for health information on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter:

  • Health information on social media sites can be brief. Teach patients to go to the sponsoring organization's website. On Facebook, look at the "About" section. On Twitter, teach your patient to look for a link to the site in the header.
  • Instruct patients to make sure that the social media account is the official account of the sponsoring organization. Social media sites will verify official social media accounts. Teach patients how to look for this verification, or have your patient go to the organization and use the link of their website to find the official social media accounts to follow.

5. Improve Patient Behaviors Through Connection

One of the best ways to teach your patients self-care behaviors is to meet them where they are on their health journey. You must match up your teaching method to the age and learning styles preferred by the patient. For elderly patients, written instructions might be best. For patients in their 20's and 30's - this might mean connecting them to social media outlets they use on a regular basis.

One study demonstrated this theory well by using social marketing principles to decrease substance misuse and increase the sexual health behaviors of college students. The researchers found that pamphlets were not enough to attract study participants, but when they used social networking sites to increase education, health behaviors improved. It's important to mention that the researchers also noted that while social media connections can increase patient engagement in some populations, one-on-one contact is still the best approach to impact patient care.

6. Boost Self-Care Techniques

If you have a patient that is looking to increase their physical activity, improve their sleep, or change their diet, suggesting that they connect to others through social media is helpful. Helping them do basic "hashtag" research to find a community for that advocates and supports others in their health journey. For example, if your patient is looking to lose weight, you might have them follow these hashtags for encouragement: #weightlossjourney, #weightloss, #weightlosstransformation.

These tips can impact your nursing practice and patient care in positive ways. Challenge yourself to try one of these tips and see if it moves you closer to a professional goal or impacts your patient's care outcomes.

Do you have any ways to use social media in your practice? Share below in the comments.

Melissa is a Quality Assurance Nurse, professor, writer, and business owner. She has been a nurse for over 20 years and enjoys combining her nursing knowledge and passion for the written word. You can see more of her work at www.melissamills.net or on her blog at www.lifeafterforty.blog.

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1 Comment(s)

Hi Melissa,

I'm currently in nursing school and writing a research paper on how social media can be implemented as a tool in nursing, and healthcare in general.

Do you have any advice on combatting what seems to be an overwhelmingly negative stigma that currently surrounds social media?