It took years of dedication and sacrifice to get your nursing license. In a few seconds, a couple of keystrokes could wipe it all out, leaving you unemployed and in dire straits.

Social media is a central part of our personal and professional lives. It provides benefits beyond the imaginations of previous generations. It also presents risks that can cost you your nursing career.

Making mistakes

As a nurse, you follow strict professional standards. For example, you would never think of violating patient privacy. Yet it is an easy and innocent mistake to make online. While seeking medical advice, you may reveal information that identifies a patient. As a result, you face possible fines, jail time, termination and the loss of your license.

Other cases are less innocent, yet harmful to your career. In the heat of the moment, you may post photos or negative comments about patients or co-workers. These simple acts of insensitivity can end with your unemployment.

Even posts about your personal life are problematic. Racist statements and references to alcohol or drug use may constitute unprofessional conduct.

Avoiding mistakes

None of this means social media is off-limits to nurses. Social media is useful and fun. Besides the examples above, here a few more tips for avoiding trouble:

  • Know your employer’s social media policy.
  • Do not access personal social media on duty.
  • Use social media to share educational material and promote nursing.
  • Rather than post in anger, take 24 hours to consider what you want to say and what is at stake.
  • Carry malpractice/disciplinary insurance.
  • Seek help from a friend or professional if you feel overwhelmed by the job.

Your personal life, such as social media, can have an impact on your professional life. Online posts can haunt you forever.

Live without mistakes

Social media has its place in your life. You can make important connections on personal and professional levels.

Social media also represents a minefield. Practice caution and common sense for a positive experience.