Nurse Kati Kleber has embraced social media, and it’s embraced her right back.
Her Twitter account (@Kati_Kleber) has more than 22,000 followers, and her book, Becoming Nursey, is a top seller drawing rave reviews on Amazon. She blogs at her website, where she promises “humor, honesty, and nursey shenanigans.” Kleber recently took some time from her busy schedule as a neuroscience ICU nurse to talk about her book and why nurses should jump into social media—with some caveats.
“Social media opens doors to conversations with nurses all over the world,” she said. “You can learn how others practice, disseminate information, and get support if you’ve been in a traumatic nursing situation. It’s a giant resource pool with so many people happy to share.”
It’s not just knowledge transfer, although that’s an important aspect. Kleber says nurses can also use social media to advance their careers. She has observed that interacting with nurses who have advanced degrees and are excited by their careers can lead to a rejuvenation of someone’s own nursing passion. “You see what they’re doing and accomplishing, and you realize you can elevate the profession,” she said.
Kleber shared 9 tips for nurses interested in approaching social media, be it Twitter, Instagram, or blog.
1. Know Why You Want to Do It.
What’s your main goal—to interact with friends? Expand your knowledge base? How you interact with people online will be affected by your goals, just as how you behave in a small gathering of close friends differs from the way you present yourself at a professional event. That in turn affects the kind of people you look to befriend on social media.
2. Once You Put RN in Your Bio, You Represent All Nurses.
You need to be very conscientious about what you’re saying, or about spreading unsupported information, and extremely careful about patient info. That said, if you can adequately hide patient info but have a story to tell that will help others, do so. Stories stick in people’s minds.
3. Never Post When Frustrated or Angry. Cyberspace Is Forever.
Even if you delete it later, your post can be cached or captured via screenshot. Someone could have shared it, and it could come back to bite you.
4. If You’re Writing About a Patient, Do It for Teaching.
Don’t make fun of patients, ever. And do everything to protect their privacy and dignity.
5. Think About What You Want to See in Another Nurse.
Maybe you’re looking for in-depth information and research, or perhaps you’re looking to trade stories and find solidarity. If it’s the latter, you might be annoyed by nurses who post lots of detailed work information when all you want is to exchange anecdotes about your day. You may even want both. Knowing what you want—and don’t want—helps you find people to follow. If you see other nurses who are behaving unprofessionally (complaining about patients with identifying characteristics or about their workplace), think twice about following them. It can look like you endorse that behavior.
6. Don’t Just Retweet and Reblog Other People’s Posts.
People want to hear what you have to say.
7. That Said, You Don’t Have to Respond to Everything.
Don’t follow everyone out there; just follow people you’re interested in.
8. At All Times, Try to Elevate the Profession.
Every time you’re about to post something online, stop and think for a moment: Is this adding value to nurses? Am I supporting the nursing profession? If the answer is no, then delete.
9. Unless You’re Authorized to Speak as a Representative of Your Organization, Refrain from Publicly Announcing Where You Work.
Don’t list your employer on your Twitter bio because that makes it seem like your clinic or hospital endorses whatever you say. Kleber makes it a point not to specifically say where she works for this exact reason. “I don’t want to inadvertently say something that my employer won’t back up, for whatever reason, and find out too late that they have a problem with it.”