Who are the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)?
- They are the nursing and midwifery regulator for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
- They exist to protect the health and well-being of the public.
- They set the standards of education, training and conduct and performance.
- They make sure that nurses and midwives keep their skills and knowledge up to date and uphold the professional standards.
How should Nurses and Student Nurses use social media?
- Building and maintaining professional relationships
- Establishing or accessing nursing and midwifery support networks
- Being able to discuss specific issues, interests, research and clinical experiences with other healthcare professionals globally
- Being able to access resources for continuing professional development (CPD).
How is the NMC Code applied to social media?
“Treat people with kindness, respect and compassion.” (The Code, paragraph 1.1)
The Code emphasises the importance of putting the interests of people using or needing nursing or midwifery services first. You should always make sure that your behaviour on social media is in line with this.
Do not post anything on social media that may be viewed as discriminatory, does not recognise individual choice or does not preserve the dignity of those receiving care.
“Always practise in line with the best available evidence.” (The Code, paragraph 6)
As a nurse or midwife, you have a responsibility to ensure that any information or advice that you provide via social media is evidence-based and correct to the best of your knowledge. You should not discuss anything that does not fall within your level of competence and you should avoid making general comments that could be considered inaccurate.
“Maintain effective communication with colleagues.” (The Code, paragraph 8.2)
You must work cooperatively with your colleagues and this includes communicating in an appropriate way when you use social media.
“Act without delay if you believe that there is a risk to patient safety or public protection.” (The Code, paragraph 16)
Social media should not be used to harass or victimise someone, or to attempt to prevent or discourage someone from raising their concerns.
Promote professionalism and trust
“Stay objective and have clear professional boundaries at all times with people in your care (including those who have been in your care in the past), their families and carers.” (The Code, paragraph 20.6)
Nurses and midwives should not use social networks to build or pursue relationships with patients and service users. In alignment with the Guidance on using social media responsibly, this can blur important professional boundaries. It is important to be aware that even without engaging with patients or service users on social media, they may still be able to access your information.
“Act with honesty and integrity in any financial dealings you have with everyone you have a professional relationship with, including people in your care.” (The Code, paragraph 21.3)
As a nurse or midwife, you have a responsibility to ensure that you declare any conflict of interest around material that you post on social media including financial or commercial dealings.
- “Use all forms of spoken, written and digital communication (including social media and networking sites) responsibly.” (The Code, paragraph 20.10)
- Nurses and midwives may put their registration at risk, and students may jeopardise their ability to join our register, if they act in any way that is unprofessional or unlawful on social media including (but not limited to);
- Sharing confidential information inappropriately
- Posting pictures of patients and people receiving care without their consent
- Posting inappropriate comments about patients
- Bullying, intimidating or exploiting people
- Building or pursuing relationships with patients or service users
- Stealing personal information or using someone else’s identity
- Encouraging violence or self-harm
- Inciting hatred or discrimination
NMC Tips on using Social Media
- Be informed
- Make sure that you familiarise yourself with how individual social media applications work and be clear about the advantages and disadvantages.
- Think before you post
- It is important to realise that even the strictest privacy settings have limitations. This is because, once something is online, it can be copied and redistributed.
- Protect your professionalism and your reputation
- If you are unsure whether something you post online, that could potentially compromise your professionalism or your reputation, you should think about what the information means for you in practice and how it affects your responsibility to keep to the Code. It is important to consider who and what you associate with on social media. For example, acknowledging someone else’s post can imply that you endorse or support their point of view. You should consider the possibility of other people mentioning you in inappropriate posts. If you have used social media for a number of years, it is important to consider, in relation to the Code, what you have posted online in the past.