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Social networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have become indispensable in today’s world. Every day, millions of people use these networks to share their lives and their thoughts with others. They are especially popular with celebrities and public figures. Although photos, posts and tweets of superstars and politicians seem to be a part of everyday life, reading posts from hospitals and nursing homes seems quite unusual. Yet, many health care and nursing professionals use these platform as a vessel to voice their daily job experiences. For example, Instagram has more than four million posts under #nurse, while up to 100 tweets per hour are published on Twitter under the same hashtag.

The underlying motivation differs from person to person. For some, sharing their impressions of their sometimes stressful and disturbing daily work routine is a type of outlet. The interest and concern of others gives support and allows them to better process their experiences. At the same time, ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ can be a source of affirmation and validation that can strengthen their motivation. Others would like to inform and give the public a better insight into their daily work as a nursing professional. Often, the media presents nursing and other caring professions in a bad light, that ultimately devalues them. Likewise, there is little to no awareness of a nurse’s diverse range of tasks in large parts of the population. For this reason, many prejudices against representatives of the nursing profession continue to exist while many remain ignorant of the reality of a nurse’s work.

The combination of high levels of physical and mental stress and staff shortages are the main reasons for frustration and dissatisfaction in nursing, as well as among patients. Thanks to social networking contributions, greater transparency and mutual understanding can be created. Sharing experiences online also helps to expose grievances and sensitize the public. Only the attention and the appropriate public pressure are starting points for discussions and changes. Branded by many as a gimmick or a useless pastime, social networks have many positive aspects and a real chance to improve working conditions and quality in nursing and health care.

Image 1  © “Viacheslav Iakobchuk” / Fotolia.com