Nurses and midwives have really embraced social media. From Facebook and Instagram, to Whatsapp and Snapchat, it seems we’re all swiping on our phones more than just a couple of times a day.
However, what you say online can have effects on your employment in the real world. Social media commentary is considered “public”, and there’s no rule that states that what is said on Facebook (or Twitter, or Snapchat) stays in the cloud.
In fact, people have been disciplined or had their employment terminated for just that – posting things online. This can range from excessive use of social media at work, making inappropriate status updates about an employer, or posting photos of yourself conducting dangerous acts online.
While the Fair Work Commission should consider a broad range of factors in reprimanding employees, such as the severity of commentary and how publicly available or damaging it was, it’s best to be on the safe side when it comes to what you put up online.
Nurses and midwives also have the added responsibility to comply with our professional obligations. These obligations guide your conduct not only at work, but online too. You can find the NMBA’s codes of conduct here.
In general terms, you should:
- Not publish patient information or make comments identifying patients online;
- Remember to maintain appropriate professional boundaries with patients in any online activities;
- Ensure your posting is respectful and inoffensive
- Ensure your social media pages have appropriate privacy settings.
If you are reprimanded for something you have done on social media, you should reach out to the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association or your local nursing and midwifery union for advice.