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


As future applications of technology in nursing education continue to expand, nurse educators must become early adopters and disseminators of the feasibility, acceptability, and outcomes of technology integration. One area of need is a larger body of sound research on student outcomes and abilities with technology integration and social media use within nursing curriculum. Social media is a viable option for conducting nursing education and practice research, data gathering, or interventions (Bate & Cannon, 2011; Crilly, Keefe, & Volpe, 2011; Galer-Uti, 2010).

Social media offers a mechanism for enhancing the education and expanding the knowledge base of students in regard to privacy, ethics, health policy, professionalism, and communication. It may also assist nurses in building an earlier professional identity and connection with the profession. Barriers in the use of social media in nursing curricula continue to be related to possible breaches in patient information and unprofessional conduct by nursing students. These risks exist for professional nurses no matter the medium of communication. As nurse educators prepare student nurses to safely administer medications or perform health assessments, so must educators play an active role in teaching students to engage in safe and professional communication within a globally connected society. Active engagement in social media may help nurses identify false information; provide new sources of accurate information; encourage preventive care; participate in discussions about how to improve the future of the profession; find answers to key issues in nursing; engage in interdisciplinary learning; and begin to disarm environments of lateral violence by finding peers and platforms for positive influence. With a clear purpose; some caution and education; support from administration; resolution of barriers; and an idea of available platforms that will meet outcomes, nurse educators can successfully integrate social media into nursing curricula.