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Leveraging social media as a travel nurse

Social media continues to exert its influence on just about every aspect of life, from allowing you to stay in touch with friends and family to providing the marketing tools necessary to boost your career. While it has clear benefits of brand exposure and keeping folks connected, not all information is appropriate to share with the world. And once it's out there, you can't take it back. This lesson is especially crucial for healthcare professionals like those in travel nursing.

On the flip side, though, medical personnel can gain useful insight, share ideas and help people focus on their well-being with the use of social media outlets. Learn how to leverage this facet of the internet as a healthcare worker:

Watch out for HIPAA
Whether you prefer to post, comment or tweet, you likely have some sort of social networking profile. As a healthcare professional, it's important to avoid sharing information that could infringe on patient privacy and land you in a mess of legal trouble. This tip might seem obvious, but if HIPAA rules were so clear, there wouldn't be any violations – and there are plenty.

For starters, avoid discussing protected health information, whether talking about test results or details on a procedure you performed. Even private messages are off limits. Your social media network of choice likely does not have the appropriate security to adequately safeguard sensitive data.

Don't be friends with everyone
An article in the journal Pharmacy & Therapeutics highlighted data that showed patients often send friend requests to their physicians. However, it would be in the best interest of doctors and all healthcare professionals to avoiding accepting these types of interactions. In fact, your employer may have policies that prohibit you from doing so. Regardless, to better strike a work-life balance, it's important to reserve professional contacts for only job-related forums, such as your work email.

Be smart about what you post
In any career, it is important to avoid posting items that could lead to lost job opportunities, and nursing is no different. As the University of Chicago explained, employers need only type your name into a search engine to find information on you – including your social networking page. Make sure that what they find portrays the respectable medical professional you are. That is, think carefully about the pictures and statuses you post.

Promote your profession
Of course, not all things social-media related are bad. In fact, there are plenty of sites designed to help medical personnel connect with other industry professionals. For example, a travel nurse who joins the online community NurseTogether can read articles posted by fellow nurses, find helpful career information and learn about education opportunities. You can also take advantage of professional networking sites like LinkedIn as another way to connect with potential employers

Start a blog
You can also use social media to promote healthy habits or just serve as a resource for fellow healthcare professional. For example, in her blog According to Kateri, registered nurse Kateri Laurel talks about both her career and general life experiences, showing readers the value of those in this profession. You too can share your story and relate with other healthcare professionals.

Social media use is a fact of life, but make sure it doesn't interrupt your career path. Choose wisely when posting and accepting friend requests, and consider using this platform as an opportunity to share your expertise

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