What would you do?
The following scenario demonstrates your accountabilities when posting on social media and when you think a colleague is unable to provide safe care.
Susan, a nurse, is scrolling though Facebook when she sees something her friend Maggie, who is also a nurse, has just posted.
"I just taught clinical all day. Now I’m doing a 12-hour night shift. Hope I can stay awake!"
Susan is worried about her friend. She knows Maggie has been working long hours lately and taking on more and more work. Susan knows firsthand how difficult and demanding long shifts can be, and worries that putting in a whole night shift after working all day at another job is too much. She thinks her friend is over doing it.
Susan then realizes that her friend’s physical and mental state might affect patients. Susan knows Maggie is an excellent nurse, but, in her current state, her friend might not be able to provide the safe, competent care her patients deserve.
Worried about her friend and knowing she should speak up for patients, Susan decides to say something to Maggie.
A difficult conversation
Susan sends Maggie a private message. Susan tells her that she knows she has been working long hours lately and juggling two jobs. She lets her know she is worried about her and wants the best for her. She also tells Maggie that her patients deserve care from someone who is able to provide the best possible care—the kind of care they would both want their loved ones to receive from another nurse.
Maggie knows Susan is right—her tiredness is so extreme that it will affect her ability to provide care during her upcoming shift. Maggie decides to ask other colleagues to cover her night shift. She also schedules a meeting with her manager to discuss adjusting her schedule.
Susan also recommends to Maggie that she take down her Facebook post. Susan points out that Maggie’s post might cause someone to think that they will not receive quality care from a nurse, which could lead to them mistrusting nurses. It is important for all patients to have trust in nurses and the nursing profession so that nurses can maintain the therapeutic nurse-client relationship. Trust is at the heart of nursing.
Maggie reflects on Susan’s words. She knows her friend is right. Maggie deletes the Facebook post. Maggie thinks about how, when she wrote the post, she did not consider how it might reflect negatively upon nursing. Maggie realizes the importance of reflecting before posting on social media and makes a commitment to do so before her next post.
Meeting the standards
When Susan spoke to Maggie, she was professional and treated her with respect. All nurses have an accountability to work respectfully with colleagues, including on social media (Code of Conduct, principle 4.1). She was also acting as an advocate for patients, and for nurses. All nurses have an accountability to maintain public confidence in the nursing profession. (Code of Conduct, principle 6.)