Target Group:  Basic BSN and RN-BSN Students

Policy Type:  New Policy


As future professional nurses with a unique obligation and responsibility, nursing students must be cognizant of the public nature of social media and other electronic communication and the permanent nature of communicating therein. These technologies may give the impression of privacy, but postings and other data should be considered in the public realm and freely visible by many people. State and Federal regulations related to confidentiality along with HIPPA require that no patient information be made available to the public. These regulations apply to comments made on social networking sites, and violators are subject to the same disciplinary action as with other HIPAA violations.


  1. Indiana Southeast logos may not be used on any social media without the approval of the Indiana University Southeast School of Nursing
  2. Students in the Nursing Program at Indiana University Southeast will:
    1. Not post content or otherwise speak on the behalf of the clinical agency or School of Nursing unless approved by the instructor and clinical agency
    2. Promptly report any identified breach of confidentiality or privacy to the instructor and appropriate authority within the clinical facility (ANA Paper)
    3. Not transmit by way on any electronic media, any patient related information or images. In addition, student nurses are restricted from transmitting any information that may be reasonable anticipated to violate patient rights to confidentiality or privacy or otherwise degrade or embarrass a patient (ANA Paper)
    4. Not share, post, or otherwise disseminate any information, including images, about a patient or information gained in the nurse-patient relationship with anyone unless there is a patient care related need to disclose the information or other legal obligation to do so (ANA Paper)
    5. Not identify patient by name or post or publish information that may lead to the identification of a patient. Limiting access to postings through privacy settings is not sufficient to ensure privacy (ANA Paper)
    6. Not refer to patients in a disparaging manner, even if the patient is not identified (ANA Paper)
    7. Not take photos or videos of patients on personal devices, including cell phones. Follow employer policies for taking photographs or video of patients for treatment of or other legitimate purposes using employer provided devices
    8. Maintain professional boundaries in the use of electronic media. Online contact with patients or former patients blurs the distinction between a professional and personal relationship and is not permitted (Adapted ANA Paper)
    9. Refrain from accessing any personal social networking sites while in the clinical setting
    10. Violations of this policy may result in disciplinary action and/or dismissal from the School of Nursing

Guidelines for Ethical/Professional Behavior

  1. Communications within social network sites or other electronic communication sites are subject to the same professional standards as any other personal interactions.
  2. Statements make by nursing students within online networks will be treated as if you verbally made the statement in a public place
  3. Nursing students will not violate copyrighted or trademarked materials
  4. Comments made regarding care of patients or that portray nursing students or a colleague in an unprofessional manner can be used in court or other disciplinary proceedings, such as those conducted by State Nursing Licensing Boards
  5. Nursing Students should monitor the postings on their profile. It may be useful to block postings from individuals who post unprofessional content
  6. Statements and photos posted online are potentially viewable by future employers. It is not uncommon for potential employers to search for the social network profiles of potential hires
  7. Avoid giving specific nursing advice
  8. Nursing Students will not make disparaging remarks about clinical agencies, School of Nursing employees, or colleagues. Do not make threatening, harassing, profane, obscene, sexually explicit, racially derogatory, homophobic or other offensive comments (ANA Paper)
  1. Due to continuous changes in these sites it is advisable to closely monitor the privacy settings for social network accounts to optimize their privacy and security
  2. It is advisable that Nursing Students set their privacy profile so that only those people who are provided access may see personal information and photos.
  3. Avoid sharing identification numbers on a personal profile. This includes address, telephone numbers, social security number, pass port numbers, driver’s license numbers, birth date, or any other data that could be used to obtain personal records
  4. It is wise to “untag” yourself from any online photos as a general rule, and to refrain from tagging others unless you have explicit permission from them to do so. It is the nursing students responsibility to make sure that these photos are appropriate and are not embarrassing or professionally compromising.
  1. First and foremost Student Nurses must recognize that they have an ethical and legal obligation to maintain patient privacy and confidentiality at all times (ANA Paper)
  2. Patient privacy measures takes in any public forum apply to social networking sites as well
  3. Online discussion of specific patients should be avoided, even if all identifying information is excluded
Social Media in the Clinical Setting

Nursing Students will be aware of social networking policies in all clinical placement sites.

Effective Date:  Fall 2011

Approved by:  Admission, Progression, Graduation Committee: November 14, 2011
Approved by:  Council of Nursing Faculty: December 19, 2011

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