Facebook photo leads to dismissal from nursing school

Four nursing students were dismissed from Johnson County Community College in Kansas after being photographed with a placenta during an off-site learning session. At least one student, Doyle Brynes, posted a photo of herself and the placenta on Facebook.

According to The Kansas City Star, the students were part of group of seven students who were attending an off-site lab with Johnson County Community College instructor Amber Delphia. The students reportedly asked if they could take pictures to post on Facebook. Delphia did not say no, but called Brynes about three hours after the student placed a photo on Facebook and asked her to take it down. Brynes did so. The next day, she — and the four other students who posed with the placenta — was kicked out of school.

Brynes is currently suing the school for reinstatement. While the school has said that Byrnes would be welcome to reapply for admission next fall, Byrnes was slated to graduate this May, marry in August and begin her nursing career in the fall.

In a letter to the students, the school of nursing called the students’ actions were “a disruption to the learning environment” that “did not exemplify the professional behavior that we expect.” Brynes’ attorney argues that the school does that not have a code of conduct that covers social media.

What do you think? Was kicking the students out the right move? Is there a better way to encourage the appropriate use of social media by future nurses?



, , , , , , , ,

Jennifer Fink, RN, BSN

Jennifer is a professional freelance writer with over eight years experience as a hospital nurse. She has clinical experience in adult health, including med-surg, geriatrics and transplant; she also has a particular interest in women’s health and cancer care. Jennifer has written a variety of health and parenting articles for national publications.

Post a Comment

You must or register to post a comment.

37 Responses to Facebook photo leads to dismissal from nursing school

  1. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    I, like many fellow nurse bloggers think this is preposterous.

  2. I don’t think they should have been kicked out. I think that removing the pictures should have been sufficient.

  3. She was asked to take it down, then did so! Why was she expelled after that? And no doubt the school expects her to “reapply” and pay admissions fees and the works all over again…

  4. Wendy Dover

    If the student asked her instructor, and was not told it was against policy to post it, how is the student supposed to know? It is the instructor and schools responsibility to let students know what behavior is accepted and what won’t be tolerated. My school has been very clear from day one about what is and is not allowed. We were warned strongly against taking photos at all, let alone posting it on public sites. If the school these students attended did not do that, then it is the schools fault and not the students. We’re smart, but we’re not mind readers.

  5. kyla

    I see no breach of confidentiality here, allot of student post things to share their expierences….I don’t belive the school was in the right here at all.

  6. Andi

    Inappropriate picture content? Probably.
    Dismissal for such? Probably NOT…unless there is more to the story that we don’t know and HIPAA was violated. However, if the school handbook contains a specific reference to photographs, grounds for dismissal would be evident.

  7. Danielle

    i don’t see where any laws were broken…no patient identities were disclosed. although this is kinda gross. i don’t see any reason for the students to have been dismissed from the program. the school should have asked for the photos to be removed and asked the students to not do any such thing again. then the school should write a social media code of conduct to discourage this from happening again.

  8. Mrs. Notrica

    I would not make a judgement befoe hearing the Instructors side. Looks like she has been mentioned, but has not spoken. What will she say her response to the QUESTION was. So far it has been said that “she didn’t say no”.

  9. Jennifer

    I think it’s excessive! If it wasn’t covered; it needs to be addressed but not this way, not by making an example of this student. It needs to be addressed and then, if future events take place then they have a basis.

  10. Mike

    There was no breach of HIPAA. The school has no social media policy. Obviously the cart is before the horse in this one.

    I can think of countless photos I’ve posted myself that are of medical experiences from on the job (MIUC/SICU). If you are going to punish a group of people based on personal opinion, then nobody would have jobs.

    Personally this is a bunch of crap. Fire the instructor for not laying down solid policy and for a failure of leadership.

    Do you ground your kid for stealing cookies before they know it’s wrong?

  11. Tina Wisneski

    This is why I have no real pics of myself posted on Facebook. At both of my schools (recently transferred) we had to sign social media contracts. I had to sign an even more restrictive contract with my current employer. This is simply part of being in the medical field. Teachers and health care ewmployees are held at higher standards. However, considering there was no signed contract, and the picture didn’t represent her in a negative manner, or violate HIPPA, I see no reason for the suspension. Why wasn’t the instructor interviewed for this article, though?

  12. Michelle

    A similar situation happened to 2 students at our nursing school. They took a picture of themselves in full isolation garb before going into a patient’s room and one of them posted it to Facebook. A clinical instructor saw it and told them to take it down and they did. A week later our class learned that they would not be continuing on with us to graduation this May and would be held back a semester because they failed the clinical rotation that they took the picture it. I think that if the picture is taken down with no questions asked and as long a it doesn’t break HIPPA then what is the big deal? In the case listed above it was a placenta. I don’t think you can ID a patient’s placenta, so I say good luck to those students in their fight. They deserve to continue on in my opinion because technically there was no breach of confidentiality and the picture was taken down.

  13. V, Dutton

    Student who posted placenta picture reinstated

    The judge said the school’s response was more disruptive than the student’s actions.

    Finally some reason in the non-incident!

  14. Mickey

    Regardless of the outcome, I think the students needed to demonstrate some common sensem which was clearly not done. This type of behavior is so uncool. They weren’t in high school bio class. These are potentially future RN’s representing the profession. I wouldn’t be surprised if the hospital revoked the school’s priveliges.

  15. Beverly

    Obviously the school had to make these students the example of what happens if you engage in social media “on the job”. Granted the school needs a social media policy, and one , I’m sure will be drafted after this incident. However like anything else in “real” life, enthusiasm for learning in the nursing profession, must be tempered by wisdom, sound judgement and critical thinking. This is another example of nurses “eating their own”. In trying to make students realize the consequences of actions we over – react in the punishment.

  16. tb

    Someone said it best….no common sense! And where were their friends on FACEBOOK that were suppose to question their judgment in posting the picture? Lol glad they r back in! Lol

  17. Just goes to show you that ANYTHING you put on Face Book can and will be used against you. My generation didn’t have Face Book – we just gossiped. That way nothing was in print and it was just “she said he said.” Where nothing is written, there is no proof. The next time these girls post something I hope it doesn’t ruin their careers!

  18. PJ

    This all appears to be only half the story. Were they in hospital/college uniform in the photo? What were they doing in the picture? Did they ask to take pictures for facebook (as stated in the news), or just to take pictures?

    Either way they need a class in nursing ethics. Is this professional behaviour they are presenting. More employers are searching the internet about their potential employees, the college is potentially trying to protect its students. ‘No social media policy’ how about dismissed for unprofessional conduct. If these photos were posted on facebook they are probably still on the net from other people saving them and cached files. Time to act like grown-ups guys!

  19. r.oxymoron

    The problem I had was the fact that the students were taking pictures during clinicals. We weren’t allowed to have our mobiles on us during clinicals or labs as it could be disruptive to the learning process. It was irritating at the time when some of us had sick children or other problems at home, but our instructors were available to our families for emergencies.

    We’re in nursing school, and especially clinical rotations/labs to learn our skills, not goof off. The picture itself is moot.

  20. Ann

    I agree dismissal for unprofessional conduct. Policy or not as a member of the medical profession we all know about privacy. When are we as a society going to make people responsible for there own actions and lack of “common sense”?

  21. af

    Why would you take a picture with a placenta to begin with? If you want an anatomy lesson then go to your OBGYN book. That is a total disrespect to the nursing profession and not to mention to their patient. Some societies and religion have respect and cultural value of placentas (if they paid attention in class they would know this)This is a HIPPA violation unless the patient gave them written consent to photograph.The instructor should have known this as well as the students.I’m sure the patient would not appreciate her placenta being shown to the world on facebook

  22. Sonya

    I agree that posting this photo was a HIPPA violation, and so unprofessional. This upper level student should have had better sense than to even take a photograph, let alone post it!?

  23. Bernadette

    The students reportedly asked if they could take pictures to post on Facebook. Delphia did not say no……This is where the students have a problem. BEFORE they posted the pictures they were told that they could not do it, and they did it anyway. Why, because they felt that what they were doing was more important than following the rules. I do not want someone who feels that what they want to do is more important than what they should do taking care of me as a nurse. I am glad they were kicked out of nursing school, for it is apparent that they care more about their “social status” than the profession to which they are studying. A student who is slated to graduate in May should already know better. Take your grade school antics and attitutes elsewhere, for they do not belong in nursing!

  24. Barbara

    1. There was no policy or rule written in the handbook or in their policies to cover this. It is available online and I looked.
    2. The instructor did not instruct, did not teach, in fact she gave no indication that what they were doing was wrong.
    3. For this to be a HIPPA violation requires that the patient be identified in some way. This was in a lab in the hospital and even the woman who delivered this placenta would not know it was hers.
    4. This is about professionalism and respect.

    And given our society where respect is a dying art, just where were these young women going to learn respect if not from the institution that was training them for this profession. Bernadette had it right, these were grade school antics but this should have been handled with more professionalism than the school showed. Remember, these are young women who do not have the years of life experience that many of the vetted nurses who have raised an angry voice about this. If a nurse with even six months of experience had done this it would have been different.

    • Abby Student

      Has it been confirmed that they were actually young? Many nursing students have a couple of years under their belt and should know better.

  25. Maxi

    I have to say I respect Nursing schools that are harder on their students. The nursing world has become a joke to some of the younger students. They are just in this for the paycheck and don’t realize being a nurse requires you to be professional and portray confidence so that your patients can see those things in you and feel at ease. Now as for this case I think the girls punishment was a bit much. She did ask permission and she did submit to the request to remove the pic. Now really what was the harm? The girls should have shown a lil more respect for the profession though.

  26. Catherine

    I agree that what thestudents did was wrong, and it does not represent those of us who are in the profession very well, however the punishment was a little harsh don’t you think? we all have had to start somewhere, and i am sure we were all reprimanded at some time. Maybe a little mark against their name with the school, and a letter of apology to the school and the hospital would be sufficient?

  27. sandi

    ok first mistake.. the school has no policy on social networking?? Then they are lucky all she asked for was reinstatement… everyone needs to have those policies, and a college should know better!!

    Stupid, yes.. why would you take a picture of a placenta and put it on fb? ahhh … student nurses thats why!

  28. katie

    Was it professional? No. But, did they put themselves or anyone else in danger? No. Did they cheat or do something morally dishonest? No. We all worked so hard just to get accepted into nursing school…and that is just the beginning of the difficult path of becoming a nurse. I honestly don’t blame them for trying to find some humor or fun in their clinical day. To get kicked out so suddenly without any sort of hearing or previous disciplinary actions is wrong.

  29. Stephanie

    I think if the school does not have a set guideline for media than the school should not have kicked them out of school. They asked her to take the pictures down and she did. They should have given her and the others a warning and that should have been the end of it. Only if it happened again should they have considered expelling them. Also it really does not make sense that the other students were kicked out if the one student posted it on her Facebook account. Anyone can post a picture of you on their account without your knowledge. If they had permission to take the photo then that was fine. If the school had an issue then they should have told her to take it down. They should not have expelled anyone, but especially the people who did not have it posted on their Facebook

  30. Buddy2011

    I’m not convinced these ladies meant for this to be a sign of disrespect…if anything, as a nursing student, you come across something such as this and you find it to be amazing or surreal and you want to share it. You want your peers to share in something you got to see while at clinical…do I think it was the best way to go about this? Ofcourse not. But, there is a whole lot of harsh judgment going on here without all of the facts provided. We don’t know these students. We don’t know their age, what program they were in, etc. Assumptions are being made about these students that could be way off base. Generally speaking: as a healthcare professional, we are held to a higher standard. This was certainly poor judgment as it wouldn’t be too hard to trace back the picture to the hospital and possibly even the patient. Think about how small our world really is…I’m sure most of their FB friends knew which school they were attending and possibly even the clinical site. One thing leads to another and you have potential issues. There is a fine line with HIPPA here that just isn’t worth crossing. It’s puts the students, school, and hospital at risk. I’m sure these students weren’t thinking of the possible downsides to this when they posted it. I really think they got caught up in the moment and made a mistake. This does lead me to believe they are young and haven’t been in the professional world very long. However, expulsion from the program is a bit harsh. I’m happy to read they were reinstated but do feel very strongly that the college needs to establish clearer guidelines. That way, in the future should a student break a rule, it’s black and white. But let’s also keep in mind, we were all young and new once…remember your first med error??? Did you purposely set out to make that error or did you simply screw up? And did you lose your job/ potential for a nursing career as a result??? Students and nurses alike have done much worse…
    I also have to admit, it never ceases to amaze me the crap nursing students will do….

  31. marsha

    I think the student nurses acted very unprofessional by taking a picture of a placenta and posting it on facebook. Common sense seems to be lacking these days. Remember that was someone’s body part and attached to a woman and a brand new baby—it was disrespectful to the patient, the college, the instructor, the hospital and the profession as a whole, I hate reading about nurses doing stupid, illegal, unprofessional acts, it makes society look at us poorly and I hold myself to higher esteem than that.

  32. Zina

    Hi everyone,
    you just have to remember that what happens during your schooling time must stay with school and belongs to school.
    it is very unethical to post such pictures for wide public observation
    No future patient will trust such nurse

  33. To not let the world see a placenta is nuts. To expel a student who was not told she could not take a picture of it and post it is incorrect. The student was literally screwed over and I would never go to that college and protest against it. The world needs to know medical stuff because ignorance is not bliss. We are not Gods in nursing and to keep our work from the public is stupid. I have been a nurse for over 25 years; and when and if, I ever find the photo of my removed uterus, I will post it on facebook. It is my uterus and how many women knows what theirs even looks like? I say this because it took me 3 kids and nursing school to know urine does not just flowing out of the vagina, you have a hole called a urinary meatus that comes from your bladder, but how many women inspect their private parts to see that? I didn’t and was ignorant about it until I was about 32. Crazy!

    • gulliver98

      you are right in one thing that people are ignorant of how their body works, but posting body parts –yours or others- on FB is not a way to teach!! If you truly believe in educating, then volunteer your time at some of the places around where you live, and teach people in their own terminology, about the basics–most people really do not care what your uterus looks like, in or out of your body, and posting the picture of a placenta on FB is inappropriate and childish. These are our newest professionals, behaving like high schoolers! No cameras in classrooms should be the rule of thumb, and they need to grow up, before i want them taking care of someone I care about.

  34. Deborah

    What is so cool about a photo with a placenta? Grow up. Think twice. Not high school any more. If there was no thought about whether this would be inappropriate – these people are not nurse candidates. They should show sensitivity. Shame on them.

  35. gulliver98

    I think that the college was well within its limits in dismissing the student. This is not high school, where you do stupid things like this, you are training to be a professional nurse, hopefully with a professional attitude. Even taking a picture of students with any body part, regardless of its origin, is very childish and extremely unprofessional. Whether we like it ir not, we are held to higher standards, and if you do not like this or agree with it, then you need to find another profession–maybe a clown, or a stand up comedian. We do joke and laugh in our jobs, because you have to have a sense of humor–you just need to know that you do not publicize it, in such a way that it appears unprofessional to the world. I imagine that this person is going to have a difficult time even getting a job, if she lives in a small community, because this will follow her, even if the school did re instate her. If you want to be a professional nurse, then behave like one from the start.
    And, just an add on– HIPAA is the correct acronym, NOT HIPPA!! I have seen this misspell all through the postings!! We live, eat, breathe, HIPAA, so lets give it its due!!