Many professionals are using the Internet to build their brands, and nurses are no exception. "Building your brand online" refers to the use of social media to create a professional online presence. Whether you're a nursing student or a registered nurse, online branding will help you become part of a growing online community of health care professionals. A credible online presence allows you to promote yourself for career advancement and future employment. Online branding can benefit nurses at all stages in their career, from recent nursing school graduates to seasoned professionals with years of experience.
Your Nursing BlogCreating a nursing blog and adding relevant content on a regular basis is one of the most effective ways to promote yourself as a nursing professional. Think of a blog as a professional newsletter with an almost unlimited potential for circulation. Your blog posts can be used to demonstrate your professional knowledge and expertise; you can also publicize your achievements and successes. Although you can discuss your nursing field in your blog, you should avoid giving any type of medical advice. Nursing bloggers also need to make patient privacy and confidentiality a primary concern. More information about patients' right to privacy is included below.
Using Twitter To Promote Your Nursing BrandTwitter is one of the simplest social media platforms, allowing you to broadcast short messages about your area of expertise to the online nursing community. Twitter can be used to promote your blog, to pass along relevant information from other blogs and websites, and to share inspirational quotations. You can also participate in Twitter chats that are related to nursing. By offering comments and asking and answering questions, you can build your list of Twitter followers. Twitter is also a good place to network when you're looking for a nursing job. One of the drawbacks to Twitter is the amount of unfiltered content you can end up receiving. Nurses and other professionals need to exercise caution about who they follow and what they pass on when using Twitter.
Protecting Your Online ReputationAs you build your online brand, you should also be conscious about the personal side of your online presence. Twitter, Facebook, and blogs make it easy to share details about personal experiences, but professionals really need to think twice before posting content or sharing photos that could damage their professional reputation. Exercise caution by using privacy settings to hide personal information that could get in the way of career advancement (or better yet, don't post it at all). If you're worried about personal content that's already available online, use Google to search for references to your name or try Google's "Me on the Web" to stay on top of unprofessional online references.
Respecting Confidentiality And PrivacyOne of the most important things to remember about social media is the need to protect patient confidentiality and privacy. Some nurses have used blogs, forums, and social networking sites to share challenging or rewarding professional experiences online and in doing so have accidentally divulged too much patient information. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) has published “A Nurse's Guide to the Use of Social Media” that reminds nurses that any patient information learned while providing professional services should only be shared with members of the health care team. This includes personal or medical information related to the past, present, or future physical or mental health of the patient. Even if a patient's name isn't used, disclosure of information or the posting of photographs is a breach of confidentiality. The guide includes several social media scenarios that resulted in confidentiality and privacy violations. In some cases, a nurse was terminated from his or her job. The guide is a must-read for any health care professional who uses email, participates in online forums, blogs, or posts to social media sites.
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