There's so much to consider when nurses login to any social media platform. Can your employer or potential employers see things you'd rather they not see? Are you violating HIPAA? Are you protecting our trusted profession's image? It's enough to make a lot of people avoid social media altogether.
Now let's add another obstacle to the gauntlet of social media: patient friend request.
I had my first one a little while ago. I had already decided when I took my nursing job that I would not be connecting on a personal level with past, current or potentially (recurring) future patients. I didn't really think about it much, even though I know some of my co-workers are linked up to some of our "frequent-flyer" patients on various platforms.
Then it happened.
A patient that had a profound impact on me sent a Facebook friend request and suddenly I was truly conflicted. On one hand, I had my default setting of "no, absolutely not", but this time I also had an equal and opposing force. I wanted to accept this patient, look at all their photos, see how they were enjoying their life post recovery, give them the scoop on the unit...but then reality trickled back in.
What about my rule? So I actually wrote about all the caveats on my blog as a way to kind of work through this issue on a public platform, to seek out others who may be like me - staunchly against blurring professional and personal lines, but also feeling the desire to reach out to people I've seen through times of darkness and light.
I'd love to start a conversation here. I know my opinion won't change. I declined her request, but not without sending a brief and warm "I wish you well, but I don't do that" reply.
It's a very personal decision and one that has both potential benefits and serious consequences.
Do you accept patients as friends on social media? Why or why not? I'd love to hear from someone who is active online that feels differently than I do...speak up!