Whether you enjoy your time on social media or you maintain a presence because you feel you must in today’s world, it is important to understand how that presence can affect your job. As you may know, when you hold a professional license in Pennsylvania, especially in the medical field, your actions in your private life can have a tremendous impact on your career. Social media is no exception.
It may seem innocent and natural to post on social media your thoughts and actions, but there is a fine line to walk when you hold a license as a medical professional. This can involve violations of patient privacy as well as expressing your personal opinions.
As a nurse or doctor, you may feel proud of the work you do caring for people and changing lives. However, sharing the events, joys and frustrations of your day on your Facebook or other social media pages can have a detrimental effect on your career, for example:
- Taking a selfie with a patient and posting it to social media without the patient’s permission
- Posting about an especially difficult case and giving details that may reveal the identity of a patient
- Venting about a difficult patient or a run-in with a supervisor or co-worker
- Posting information about patients who have died, even with the intention of providing comfort
- Sharing pictures of your patients that you take without their knowledge, even if you do not give their names
For example, you may treat a patient who arrives unconscious from an overdose and post pictures as a public service to others to avoid the dangers of drug use. However, doing so is a violation of that patient’s privacy rights, and you are likely to face some serious consequences if someone reports your actions to your supervisor or to the licensing board.
Even your personal or political opinions may cause you trouble if you post them on social media. For example, if you post a rant that includes racial overtones, the licensing board may worry that you are not able to provide adequate care to all patients, regardless of their race. You would be wise to learn the social media policies related to your license.
However, if you find yourself facing disciplinary action because of your social media presence or any other accusations, your first step is to learn as much as possible about your options from a legal advocate who has experience in defending the licenses of medical professionals.