Social Media Use in Nursing Education

Terri L. Schmitt, PhD, RN, FNP-BC, Susan S. Sims-Giddens, EdD, RN, Richard G. Booth, MScN, RN


Online J Issues Nurs. 2012;17(3) 

In This Article

Tips for Social Media Use Within Nursing Curricula

Several sound resources exist to assist faculty in the use of social media (see Table 2). All nursing faculty are encouraged to thoroughly examine these resources when contemplating use of social media tools. Faculty engaging in online education might also benefit from the yearly statistical report of the Sloan Consortium [Available:] about online learning within the United States. Other tips for success include:

  • Know the institution and/or department social media policy. If a social media policy does not exist, strongly consider developing one through examination of published guidelines (e.g., ANA, NCSBN) and/or other institutions.

  • Know the educational background of students entering a course. Have students had a basic computer science course? Have they had a program introduction course where policies or HIPAA education occurs or does this need included? Ensure that students have adequate opportunity for learning about privacy, policy, ethics, and safety prior to introducing social media projects.

  • Choose no more than one or two types of social media to begin, then expand into other areas once those areas are understood and mastered by faculty and students.

  • Seek assistance from the university librarians, computer support services, and other technology-savvy faculty.

  • Negotiate within faculty contracts or teaching loads to provide time and/or compensation for making these changes in courses and the curriculum.

  • Keep course outcomes, program outcomes, and accrediting body standards as a priority and begin a project to meet specific outcomes and standards.

  • Investigate systematic approaches and theoretical frameworks for technology integration in curriculum.

  • Know your audience. Evaluate your student population's perception and attitude about technology, and their knowledge, preference, and abilities. Be prepared to create tutorials or provide assistance in areas where students may need more knowledge. Do not make assumptions about a group's technology skills based on a demographic (e.g. being a millennial).

  • Pilot test your project with a small group of co-faculty or students prior to implementation.

  • Be creative, have fun, think outside the box, and help students connect with reputable organizations and nurses.

  • Allow students time to grow. Encourage netiquette (respectful online behaviors) and forgiveness of others' mistakes. Caution students to not post when angry.

  • Provide students with privacy settings checklists for various platforms.

Finally, provide examples of both incorrect and correct use of social media, and encourage students to begin to think, discuss, and define what professional communication in a healthcare context means in social media platforms.