Social networking is the hallmark of the modern age, and nursing hasn’t been immune to the power of social media and social connections online. This sample nursing paper explores the ways in which social media has become a cultural norm, and examines its impact on privacy and ethical violations in the world of nursing.
Websites, social media, and blogs in nursing
Social networking has become an everyday occurrence for more than two million people in North American alone. The allure of easy access to friends, family, and information is powerful. In fact, networking through social media has become a cultural norm and a part of everyday life. The impact on society is immense as individuals can search for medical information and connect with healthcare staff.
This presents a number of challenges for nurses. The pitfalls of internet use and social networking include privacy and ethical violations. Yet, the benefit to patients is appealing. Blogs and social networking sites can offer unlimited opportunities for nurses to provide health education and foster communication. On top of social networking, the internet has opened up avenues of research, previously available only to those who could afford it. Sites like Sci-Hub publish academic and medical journals that are accessible to anyone for free.
Current and historical perspectives of social media
Social networking is not a new concept.
In the 1950s, J.A. Barnes used social networking to define “complex sets of relationships between members of social systems at all scales, from interpersonal to international” (Anderson, 2009, p. 16).
This definition essentially meant that social networking crossed boundaries that previously kept certain groups and social categories rigid and fixed. Currently, social networking has evolved to include the online environment. This allows individuals to create and share connections. There are over 150 social networking communities that have at least 30,000 users (Anderson, 2009, p. 16). Social networking sites that continue to impact society include LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.
Social networking sites specific to nursing also exist and offer nurses a chance to enter a community with common goals, take classes regarding ethics, and even maintain an updated knowledge regarding legislation affecting the nursing industry. Aside from the actual social networking website, tools such as blogs support social networking by allowing the user to create a space for commentary and include other visual elements to convey thoughts and ideas. Blogs can also be used to provide educational material. In one study, it was found two-thirds of bloggers in the United States hold a master’s or doctoral degree (Watson 2012, p. 217).
Social networking and “blogging” have developed to the point where blogging can be a required element in nursing education as a blog allows for self-reflection. In a recent study of nurses who utilized social networking; the number one reason cited was to access healthcare‐related education (54%), followed by sharing of research articles with colleagues (33%), and to communicate with employers (18%) (AMN, 2012).
Nursing blogs and social media’s impact on society
The use of social media to communicate has helped some aspects of society. By using online information and analyzing social behaviors, agencies like the Center for Disease Control can track or predict the spread of infectious disease. Social media also supports community-based interventions by providing easy access to disease information. One concern with social networking and heavy reliance on electronic communication is that this limits interpersonal communication skills.
According to Ogbevoen (2012), this is not quite true. “Rather than disrupting our social and interpersonal skills, social media appear to magnify our existing social behaviors” (Ogbevoen, 2012).
Forces affecting the adoption of social media and websites
Social forces that affect the adoption of social networking, websites, and blogs in nursing are perceived the threat of privacy violations and may cause ethical problems in nursing. Social networking places patient information at risk if nurses do not take appropriate steps to protect patient confidentiality. With sites such as Facebook, the temptation to share information about an interesting case is possible. Recent reports indicate that physicians have been terminated and cited with unprofessional conduct due to sharing information about particular cases.
Implementing public policy concerning nursing sites
Nurses need to take care when discussing the work day in the context of Facebook or in a blog. Public policy measures such as The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA), seeks to protect patient confidentiality, but with the implementation of electronic health records and the government implementing a nationwide health record database, the potential for misuse of patient information is possible.
Most hospitals and healthcare agencies have policies in place to deal with breaches of HIPPA and inappropriate social networking postings. The U.S. government should consider updating HIPPA to incorporate social media breaks in patient confidentiality (Kientz & Kupperschmidt, 2011, p. 7). This creates another issue for nurses and the healthcare profession as a whole. Some even argue it impedes on the nurse’s ability to advocate for the patient.
Dynamic nature implications stemming from nurses’ use of blogs and social media
Nurses can take advantage of the dynamic nature of social media to communicate with other healthcare professionals, enroll in continuing education courses, and provide patient education and disease management. Additionally, technology continues to change and advance, providing another venue for patient education. Less than 10 years ago, social media such as YouTube did not exist in the context that it does today (Hemsley & Mason, 2012, p. 2). The implications of this are that with the ease of posting a comment on social networking sites and the ever-changing nature of websites is that more and more privacy violations can occur.
Social networking is an everyday occurrence. Websites, social networking sites, and blogs can promote nurse education with patient populace. The same technology can potentially cause HIPPA privacy violations. Due to the dynamic nature of technology, nurse can use technology to help patients and increase quality of care
American Nurses Association (2012). ANA Working for You. Retrieved from: http://www.nursingworld.org/
Anderson, C. (2009). How does social networking enhance the nursing narrative? Nursing Management, 40(9), 16-20.
Kientz, E., & Kupperschmidt, B. (2011). Social networking & students: Implications for professional nursing. Oklahoma Nurse, 56(1), 1.
Mason, J. & Mason, R. (2012). The nature of knowledge in the social media age: Implications for knowledge management tools. Presented at the 45th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS), Wailea, HI.
Ogbevoen, L. (2012). 3Qs: The social impact of social networks. Society & Culture. Retrieved from http://www.northeastern.edu/news/category/society-culture/.