Gone are the days when emails, CVs and cover letters were the only means to communicate your professional aspirations, goals and achievements to the outside world. Today the first thing any savvy-recruiter does is checks out your social-media and online presence if they are serious about hiring you. This helps them understand your personality and temperament in addition to your technical skills. Social media has made a credible online presence indispensable due to the ease of its access and availability. All one needs is an internet connection to access your public profile online.
Having an online presence has become essential to professional development, but the following are some questions most of us have before treading on a journey of creating a public persona. Can you use it to your personal advantage and advance your professional aspirations? Do you want yourself to be discoverable to the end number of opportunities available to nurses at a global scale? Are you looking to create a successful personal brand? Do you wish to connect with your fellow colleagues, nurse leaders and in-charges by sharing your story? How can social media help you develop yourself on professional grounds?
The aforementioned questions may not have crossed your mind, but are important to answer for every nurse in contemporary times. Today, one of the most powerful ways of establishing your personal identity is through social media. It is your gateway to building a reputation and standing out in the industry. Now, by putting in a little effort towards their social media, one can gain momentum online, achieve professional goals and make themselves discoverable to several opportunities and people.
Establishing yourself as a thought leader in medical communities as well as larger social circles by communicating on channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter can increase your connections exponentially, and can place you on the center stage amidst a global audience. To help you jumpstart your digital journey, we have put together some quick tips and ways in which you can build a constructive social media presence:-
Express Your Uniqueness
Today, most professionals have a personal brand or an expression of themselves that represents them on an individual level, just like a corporate brand represents a business entity. This requires some investment of time, effort, and brainstorming but if done consistently can pay off in the long run in the achievement of professional goals.
The following are some questions that can help you think about yourself as a brand:-
What is your sole purpose for creating this digital store-front?
Where do you hope it will take you?
What are your objectives?
What are your beliefs?
A digital channel without a persona is meaningless. In addition to referring to this extensive guide on the use of social media do glance through some of the key ways in which you can build an impactful brand:-
- Think of what you would like to highlight in your personality or professional achievement that is unique
- Put together a set of visuals (photographs/ illustrations) that depict your persona
- Add personality to your profession for instance – What social causes are you most concerned about? What are your hobbies outside of work?
- Bring together your network in one platform
- Share your insights on your channels regularly and communicate effectively
Make it Personal
Nursing is still a very underrepresented profession on social media. Considering the current circumstances where nurses are saving the day by saving the lives of Covid-19 patients, the larger public wants to know the story behind a nurse’s life. However, since nursing requires us to be physically involved and mindfully present at all times, it is hard to maintain a social media presence.
Knowing so, we recommend investing that extra bit of time and energy into building a digital profile, because not only will it boost professional growth, but will also inspire others to walk in your footsteps. The world needs an honest picture of what nursing is all about, and there aren’t enough voices doing that. Be raw, be real, and tell your story of the excellent, the good, the bad and the ugly that comes with nursing.
This curated list of nurses who are active on social media features some well-known influencers like – Dr. Charnelle Lewis, Brittney Wilson, The Gypsy Nurse. Follow them for inspiration and support them by building a larger digital community of nurses.
Let’s look at Brittney Wilson’s profile to gain some inspiration by studying what she’s done right. To start with, her username – “thenerdynurse” – speaks volumes about her character – as one who is probably very studious and enjoys learning the technical details that comes within the field of nursing. Second of all, her bio starts with the simple sentence – “I help nurses feel more confident.” It explains the objective behind her Twitter page. Moreover, she has a link to a personalized website, and she posts multiple times a week to keep her user base of 35.7k followers engaged. Do also notice how her posts have a little knowledgeable take away or a relatable element in them, so that every reader leaves her page satisfied and excited for more.
Last but not the least, some of these stories showcase how nurses have saved the lives of people in the past, imagine how inspiring they would be if they were shared more openly on social media. From preventing someone from committing suicide to saving a seventh-grader from a stroke, nurses are real-word superheroes – and their stories deserve to get featured on every platform.
Know your Niche, and Project It
Unlike most other professions, the skills required for nursing include a unique mix of soft and hard skills. The education and training to be a nurse are intensive, and the work experience matters. This diverse nature of nursing provides an opportunity for nurses to build a unique brand. Though it’s quite different from regular full-time jobs, nurses require experience promotions and increased compensation as their career grows and also their brand. The key to growing the personal brand is to follow a systematic process of internal reflection, strategic development, and organic creation.
Moreover, since the industry is governed by personal experiences, accreditations, advanced degrees, specialties, and various care environments, the audience is intrigued to know more about each of the avenues, and it is up to you to pick a niche, and create a window for them to peek through and gain an insight into what your world looks like.
You need not be an expert to build your online presence, especially when you are just starting out. You can simply talk about your daily work or include the following factors:-
– your good or not-so-good-experiences
– your professional certificates, online course credentials or credit hours completed
– what you learn from your interactions with patients or their family members
– any life-saving cases that you come across and the way you manage them
– talk about your area of specialisation
– your interaction with students and what you learn from them if you are an academician
– any new technology that you come across in your practice or education
– the research paper or the data collection methodology you are working on and why it was important for you
– the highlight of your daily routine
– the colleagues or supervisors who help you out at your job
– the things that you are grateful for
– the areas you’d like to improve on or learn better
By asking questions, sharing experiences in the relevant communities, you can be assured of receiving relevant answers while also making great friends.
Share the Challenges of the Industry
Life as a nursing student isn’t easy. Some of the more well-known issues include but are not limited to the following:-
- The quality of nursing education is dwindling even in premier institutes, and practical exposure for undergraduate students barely cuts corners. This leads to disappointment for both employers and new nurses on entering the workforce as the expectations and outcomes differ.
- The work hours are demanding, and work situations are challenging.
- It is not easy to maintain a work-life balance, and thus freshers experience burnouts.
The more knowledge we spread and the more awareness we create in regards to the tribulations faced by nurses, the more likely it is for people to find solutions within the industry. Instead of keeping quiet about challenges, we must tweet about it, write blog posts on it, upload a simple video explaining ourselves, share photographs that prove the existence of challenges, and use the power of social media to eradicate all evils that lurk around the nursing industry.
Build a Community
Everybody’s nursing journey is very unique, and nothing is more rewarding than sharing your story with someone who has been there and done that, and understands what you might be going through. It is also beneficial to know others’ missions and values in the field and connect with those forging a path similar to yours.
Travel opportunities and social media have made it easier than ever to build professional relationships and maintain connections all over the globe. It is crucial to look for mentors and seek support and advice throughout your career life. Remember, there is strength in unity, and social media is a golden opportunity to build this unity.
Grow your professional base, open yourself to a broader audience, expand your thesis and papers’ reach, and add immense value to your certifications – all by documenting your nursing narrative online!
Know Your Platforms
While platforms like Facebook and Instagram encourage the telling of personal experiences, those like LinkedIn and Twitter encourage you to contribute to the digital persona of your industry in the professional realm.
The ultimate networking tool available to professionals, including nurses, is LinkedIn. However, many of us in the medical field disregard it as a channel for entrepreneurs and job-seekers only. That is not the case. LinkedIn focuses on connecting colleagues and peers within each industry. Creating a LinkedIn profile as a nurse involves basic steps listed in this article. In the beginning, it may appear foreign, but overall it is a user-friendly platform and an seamless way to learn about the developments in the field, find new job opportunities and connect with like-minded people. For e.g. commenting on any discussion post shared by an individual or a thought-leader you follow, can bring you in the limelight. Consistently in this regard will help your stories reach the right ears of recruiters on Linkedin and will open you up to newer career opportunities.
Similarly, Twitter is a great way to put your point forward, discuss, and deliberate effectively. For example, as a nurse, you can use your media handles to reach out to higher authorities and present the difficulties you face because of a lack of flexibility and demanding work in the present healthcare situation. Your network can help you promote your concerns and get the required help. Here’s a list of hashtags you can follow on Twitter to place yourself amidst a global nursing community.
The most promising social media platform is currently Instagram, with over 1 billions users on it every month. Think of Instagram as your public photo album. Document your journey with visuals in the form of photographs, quotes, videos, reposted content and gifs to share with your audience your unique story. It is no secret that the human learns best through visuals – and this is where Instagram becomes a golden opportunity for you to teach your audience the secrets of a nurse’s life. Additionally one can make the most of the platform by using all its features: IGTV, Reels, stories, highlights, live streams etc., as elaborated here.
More than anything else, as medical professionals we have a duty towards the larger world to share our story and make nursing more transparent than it is. As Mike Sevilla, MD, a Family Physician at the Family Practice Center of Salem, says, “When I talk to doctors, one of the things that I like to bring out is things that are wrong on the Internet, or myths that are out there. Probably about 10 years ago, there was a research study that was out that said that vaccines cause autism, which is incorrect. There is still a lot of information out there on the Internet about that, and patients bring that to me all the time.”
Last but not the least, as you get accustomed to social media, you will quickly find how enjoyable it can be (no wonder we have over 2.5 billion active users on social media today – and the numbers are only predicted to rise.) So snap, click, tweet, write, post, follow and enjoy an alternate universe always at an arm’s length on your screen.
“Written by Nandini Marwah, edited by Aradhita Saraf (Weloquent)“