Professionalism and social media

Professionalism and social media

The Impact of Social Media on the Professionalism and Ethics of Nurses as Health Professionals

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Social Media Posts Inappropriate to the Nursing Profession

In examining my social media pages, it is striking that there are elements of conversations and other posts that border on the inappropriate, given the professional standards of nursing. Most of this information is usually unintentional as it is shared amongst friends, many of whom are not nurses themselves. Some of these posts that I found out relate to for instance the use of memes that are intended to “body-shame” some prominent media personalities who are widely considered to be obese. Others related to the posting of status updates describing the day’s work and the nature of the tiring tasks engaged in during the day’s shift. By now examining these posts, it is clear that appearing to disrespect persons who are obese is indeed a violation of the professionalism of a nurse, and the code of ethics for nurses which calls for the respect of all persons regardless of their status (ICN, 2012). The International Council of Nurses (ICN) Code of Ethics for Nurses in its preamble calls for the respect of all persons regardless of their culture or status. It also requires nurses to be guided by respect for all. Furthermore, the preamble also mentions alleviation of suffering as one of the four key responsibilities of a nurse. Disrespecting obese persons clearly goes against these values and does not display nursing professionalism. As for the description of the day’s shift in the status update, a close inspection of the post reveals that it infringes on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This is because some of the information shared borders on the confidential and private in as far as the patients involved in the care are concerned (Edemekong & Haydel, 2019). Professionalism and social media


Responsibility of Nurses

The nursing profession has variously been labelled as noble, a calling, and compassionate amongst other titles. This means that the public views nurses as saviors and holds them in high regard due to the work that they do. This places a heavy responsibility on the shoulders of all nurses to conform to the public’s and the profession’s expectations of them, whether they are at work or off work. Moreover, the professional standards of practice and codes of conduct for nurses clearly spell out what the nurse is and is not supposed to do in terms of behavior (ICN, 2012).

If a nurse is not careful, especially with the social media, they may find that they are in contravention of the law as stipulated by the HIPAA. This Act limits and prohibits the dissemination of confidential medical information to persons who are not directly involved in the care of a patient (Edemekong & Haydel, 2019). For nurses, because of their unique position of access to confidential medical data, they are at increased risk of breaching this law if they are not cautious. In doing so, they will also be violating the professional ethical standards as outlined above. Examples are discussing disease details of your patient with a friend on social media pages and posting pictures of patients taken by mobile phone while they are under anaesthetic. Professionalism and social media

Christian Values

In the analysis of my social media pages, I came to the realization that not all of the material posted is borderline or outright offensive to both law and profession. There are many posts that also relate to sensitization and advocacy for worthy causes such as awareness about the risk factors of kidney failure. These are in line with the Christian value and calling of helping one’s neighbor. By creating awareness in my social media pages as a nurse, I may influence a random person to go and get checked thereby helping them detect disease early.  However, anonymity needs to improve in my posts (Denecke et al., 2015).


Denecke, K., Bamidis, P., Bond, C., Gabarron, E., Househ, M., Lau, A.Y.S…. & Hansen, M. (2015). Ethical issues of social media usage in healthcare. Yearbook of Medical Informatics, 10(1), 137-147. Doi: 10.15265/IY-2015-001

Edemekong, P.F. & Haydel, M.J. (2019). Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Retrieved 21 August 2019 from

International Council of Nurses [ICN] (2012).  The ICN code of ethics for nurses. Retrieved 21 August 2019 from

Professionalism and social media

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