Using social media puts your private life into the public eye, and many times there is no avoiding the negative consequences.
Countless people have been fired from healthcare jobs for unprofessional postings on social media or extreme personal beliefs that reflect poorly on their employer. And, despite common interpretation of the law, the First Amendment only protects from government action, not decisions made by private sector employers unless you can prove you were unfairly discriminated against.
In other words, what you say on social media can easily affect your job. If what you post reveals personal information about a patient without their express consent, you could also be found to have violated HIPAA, which can end your healthcare career and saddle you with hefty fines.
So, please, be careful about what you post on social media and heed the following advice.
Don’t Vent About Work
The most obvious professional advice for using social media is to not complain about work.
Once upon a time, we knew that only our closest friends and family would see something we post, but these days everyone is linked on platforms like Facebook. Complaining about a boss or co-worker essentially guarantees that someone who knows the person you are complaining about will see it and take offense.
As much of a relief as it is to vent, save it for person-to-person communications like text messages, phone calls or face-to-face conversations. Be wary of even emailing something nasty since it could somehow fall into the wrong hands.
Never Ever Post Identifying Details About Patients
HIPAA laws are quite serious and readily enforced. Something as simple as taking a “selfie” with a patient can land you and your employer in hot water. Even if the patient gives you permission, the patient can later allege that they were not aware of who would see the post or what they were giving permission for unless they signed something in writing.
As an egregious example, consider the doctor at Northwestern Memorial Hospital who took a photo of a patient with borderline alcohol poisoning and posted it on social media. She later sued the hospital, jeopardizing the provider’s ability to focus on patient care as they scrambled to do damage control.
Even kind-hearted words can lead to trouble, such as the ER staff offering condolences to the family of an officer who had passed before the family was even notified.
Beware of Politically Charged Opinions
Regardless of your stance on the political spectrum or how you interpret “political correctness,” realize that anything you post reflects upon your employer and could come back to haunt you. Something as simple as “liking” a page or posting a comment on a “meme” can bring you and your employer unwanted attention if the action is interpreted as supporting a controversial opinion.
Realize that employers can fire you if they can justify that your expression of your beliefs could negatively affect their ability to fulfill work duties. Unless you can prove that the action was the result of outright discrimination, there is usually no way to fight back.
Find Healthcare Jobs That Make You Happy to Make Your Social Media Habits More Positive
One of the biggest reasons we say angry things on social media is because we are frustrated by things we cannot control, like our jobs. If you think your job is making you unhappy, don’t post about it, do something about it!
You can start finding more fulfilling healthcare jobs in your respective field by looking for healthcare job listings and submitting your resume today.