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When social media bites back

I have talked several times about not burning your bridges or putting yourself in a position where you may have to defend your reputation as a nurse, but this week I saw the worst example of what I am talking about.

I heard rumors going around the hospital about a charge nurse on another unit that was posting negative remarks about his manager and unit on Facebook.  Another nurse came to me to talk about it because she knew that I was friends with this manager.  She even showed me what was posted.

Not only did this charge nurse post these remarks about his boss, but even stated these remarks using her name and the unit name.  Unbelievable!  I can’t believe that a nurse, especially a charge nurse who is in a leadership position, would stoop to that.  He was even having dialogs with other nurses form that unit talking trash about the unit and manager.

I requested to be his friend to make a comment about how inappropriate what he is doing is, but I decided the best way to handle this was to present this information to the manager of the unit.  I felt it was her problem to deal with, and I was not going to sink to his cowardly way of dealing with problems.

Not only did this make him look bad as an employee, but also weak as a leader on the unit.  It is one thing for nurse to complain about their boss in private or in the breakroom, but it is another for one of the members of the leadership team to lead the complaining session.

Also, just an FYI to all you out there that think what you post on Facebook or any other social networking site is private……it is not.  It is out there for the entire world to see.  Just because you think only your friends can see what you post, you will have friends that will show what you posted to others, and eventually that can get back to your employer that can put you in position that may jeopardize your job or at the very least the trust your boss has in you.

Remember, it is normal to complain about your boss, just be careful you who do the complaining to, and how you do it.

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Rob Cameron

Rob Cameron is currently a staff nurse in a level II trauma center. He has primarily been an ED nurse for most of his career, but he has also been a nurse manager for Surgical Trauma and Telemetry unit. He has worked in Med/Surg, Critical Care, Hospice, Rehab, an extremely busy cardiology clinic and pretty much anywhere he's been needed. Prior to his career in nursing, Rob worked in healthcare finance and management. Rob feels this experience has given him a perspective on nursing that many never see. He loves nursing because of all the options he has within the field. He is currently a grad student working on an MSN in nursing leadership, and teaches clinicals at a local university. Away from work, Rob spends all of his time with his wife and daughter. He enjoys cycling and Crossfit. He is a die hard NASCAR fan. Sundays you can find Rob watching the race with his daughter.
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18 Responses to When social media bites back

  1. Megan Gilbert RN

    I have even heard of a nurse to goes as far as taking a picture of a surgical patient and posting it to facebook!! can you believe that?

  2. Tammy

    I’m sorry, but in my opinion…all that did was make you a tattle tale. Running to the boss about something that happened outside work was absolutely NONE of your business. Shame on you for stirring up a stink. If the other nurses don’t want to read it, no one is making them.

  3. Rob Cameron

    What you have to remember that there is a larger picture to see when you post on social media sites. What you post about your employeer is a direct reflection on you and the institution you work for. It makes you look like a fool and makes you hospital look bad because its employees (in this case a charge nurse) are bad mouthing the institution.

    There are employeers that do look at social media sites before they hire you to see how you behave outside of work. What you post on these sites is a direct reflection of what kind of person you are. And….if you have the guts to post something negative on one of these sites when you think it is private, you should have the guts to take responsiblity for those posts when it is no longer private. That is what professionals do…..take responsibility.

    So…..maybe I am a “tattle tale”, but unlike you who only sees your little part of the big picture, I am the type of person who sees the whole picture and am not only looking out for my co-workers, but for the hospital that I work at and believe in its mission.

  4. BRI

    Or, more simply, you are the type who wants to score brownie points…..

  5. Tammy

    Oh, trust me…having been a nurse for 30 years, I see much more then my “little part of the big picture”. What I see is someone looking to make himself feel important, when all you’ve really done is make yourself (on the web-for “the entire world” to see) look petty and self important. How can you claim friendship to the unit manager in question? Not only did you show what underhanded lengths you will go to (by insinuating yourself onto this individual’s personal profile under false pretenses); you then gleefully presented it to your “friend”. Did YOU see past your little part of the big picture to the hurt you may have caused your friend? Everyone complains about their job on occasion and this was done on his private media page that only friends have access to. Unless he named the facility outright, not just the unit, no one is going know the difference in a city the size of Denver. Plus, people just don’t care, most have their own worries and job issues. Maybe your friend will see this as a head’s up that there is an issue on their unit. If several nurses are saying the same thing, maybe this person should re-evaluate their own leadership skills. Again, put away the s— stirring stick and tend to your own back yard.

    • JUDY

      Tammy, You hit the nail on the head. Comment from another nurse of 30 years.

  6. Rob

    BRI…..brownie points with who?

  7. Tammy

    As I have said many times before….it is not private, it is a public board.

    If I were the manager in question, I would want to know if there was a problem on my unit that my staff did not talk to me about. This what is called team work. I have my team on my unit, and I am a part of the management team.

    The facility was named, the unit was named, the manager was named (not just infered, but her actual name was used). This was a charge nurse, a leader within the hospital, who chose to go against one of the core values of our institution.

    So…again….Big Picture!

  8. klf

    You need a proof-reader for your article. There were at least 3 errors, I did nit finish reading the article, the mistakes were too annoying.

  9. Rob Cameron

    klf…..that is the funniest thing I have ever seen….you writing to talk to about errors in my post, and then you make an error is yours.

    Keep up the good work editor!

  10. Miriam Bookey

    Hi, I’m the site editor. We generally don’t proof read all of our nurse blog posts before they go live…and hope that our readers understand that sometimes these busy nurses are writing a post after a long shift or at some ungodly hour. :-) Of course, when we do see an error we try to correct it right away. I’m grateful and proud of the wonderful stuff our bloggers write and hope that a grammatical gaffe once in a while doesn’t detract from the important overall message.

  11. Melissa S.

    I am currently in nursing school and I keep my Facebook private and only allow my friends to view my page. Unfortunately, my page isn’t completely private because schools and potential employers are able to view your profile, without your permission. I know first hand because a school official actually showed the class that they were able to view any student’s profile.
    Thankfully, I don’t post anything about school or work. Also, by posting pictures of patients, one can be fired, fined and may lose their license due to the fact it’s a HIPAA violation.

  12. Having been an RN for 21 years, I have witnessed THIS happen lots of times……..
    Maybe NOT mean and spiteful gossip on the internet until these past 10 or so years, but PEOPLE GOSSIP anyway! Not everyone LIKES everyone…… and sometimes, THE person you really don’t like is your boss……… Generally for GOOD reason…….
    Big deal!
    With SO many jobs in Nursing…… FIND SOMETHING ELSE……… GO SOMEWHERE ELSE TO WORK………. TRANSFER TO A DIFFERENT WARD, DIFFERENT SHIFT OR SOMETHING……. There is NO need to bad mouth people……. Or “set them up to look stupid,” or even become “friends” with someone so that you can CHANGE their behavior????? Talk about manipulation!!!! (Wow……)
    And actually, IF someone is talking or writing trash about someone else, THAT will come back and bite them when they least expect it………
    As for “The Reflection of BAD GOSSIP about the WORKPLACE……” Blah, Blah, Blah……
    The majority of people are NOT as stupid as you make them sound……..
    Most people DO realize that there JUST ALWAYS has to be someone that complains about every little thing, real or imagined……. Just as people realize that there always has to be THAT one person that thinks it’s his/her job to BUTT in and REPORT EVERYTHING that they perceive to be a problem, real or imagined…….
    Bottom line is……… Just GO to work, DO your job, Do it right and then MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!
    IN my humble opinion, The ONLY time it is TOTALLY APPROPRIATE to BUTT your face into the bussiness of other’s, is IF the PROBLEM IS >>SAFETY RELATED<<…..EVERYONE has the right to expect a safe work environment…… (EXCEPT PSYCH NURSES AND STAFF…….. LONG STORY…..long time before THAT happens!)
    Just remember, IT is really difficult to be taken seriously as a RN when your nose is all covered with brown excretement due to tattling on your co-workers……….

  13. jhoj

    We had to sign a code of conduct agreement and it included the rules of etiquette when discussing anything work related on social media (that includes blogs) and what information we could be terminated for. we went so far as to remove the name of the company from the “where you work” info on the facebook page. i work with many young people who may not think it is inappropriate to vent their frustrations on social media networks, but they soon learned, after three of them received 3 days off for violations. one took pictures of themselves with the clock in the background, at the nurses station , with patients in the background and posted it on facebook. we are not allowed to have our phones at work, plus not allowed to post pictures of our workplace, plus pictures of patients. this person didn’t learn as she lost her job after posting one more picture a week later. privacy and professionalism is a standard we accept when we become nurses and healthcare staff. this standard is also expected when we are outside of the workplace and represent any aspect of the company we work for.

  14. Judy, RN

    Miriam, you must have been or are a nurse to understand nurses shifts. Spelling is not always the most important thing in an email or blog that is commented on in a hurry because you just need to put your feet up or food in your tummy. I agree with your comment 100% and you were nice about it. I like Scrubs site even more now.
    Experienced RN, BSN, CCRN, CPAN and I achieved those initials by hard work, studying and being a patient advocate. I will admit that it is very hard not to want to slander a charge nurse, but time has taught me that it is not worth the indigestion it causes. Exercise to reduce stress all you dear nurses, you are so needed to improve our health care system today and I don’t mean banging out your frustrations on a keyboard. Walk around the block or run a mile and then comment to your peers not the world. You are loved by the public, lets keep it that way.
    Oh, and it takes 80 muscles to frown and only 22 to drink a cocktail. LOL!

    • Steph Student

      Judy, that’s the best advice on the blog. Hear, Hear!

  15. Shauna

    In my opinion, a blogger who writes multiple replies to comments he feels is offensive or disagreeing with his opinion, has no business blogging in the first place. Posting comments in defense of your own opinion makes you look petty. Many of us post our comments and move on. You must be pretty insecure about yourself to come back to a particular blog entry and post those types of comments. As a reader, I find it terribly annoying, and likely won’t read anything with your name attached again. In addition to that, I also agree with all the comments that say you weren’t coming from a “this is best for the unit” position, but one that was self-serving. Trying to “friend” someone on FB merely to see what they’ve said about a co-worker and report that to the co-worker in question, or higher authority, makes YOU look bad, and the unit and hospital YOU represent, because YOU’RE just causing conflict. This article has an undertone of an individual who doesn’t work well with others, and has been the person gossiped about before. There are plenty of REAL problems in our jobs, without the added and unnecessary situations YOU’RE contributing to. Also, you’re a major back-stabber, and I would assume you have very little friends because of it. I feel sorry for you buddy, maybe you need some counseling.

  16. Nurse Rene RN

    And one would think, after all these YEARS of Internet, emails, texting, etc. that we would ALL know better!
    I can’t imagine a person being trusted with the responsibility of a Team Leader (i.e. Charge Nurse) being so naive, stupid, whatever as to post something which trashes people in a way which is so easily and obviously identifiable.
    If Rob had not reported this fool someone else would have. Probably ultimately saved him from himself.
    He is lucky to have kept a job either way.

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