Social media has broad applications for nursing. Although the nursing literature on social media includes many cautions (Green, 2017), the benefits of social media are also acknowledged (Ferguson, 2013). This article describes how social media was used by nurse educators at a hospital to support clinical education during the rollout of a new initiative.
A social media platform was created for a large, multicenter teaching hospital, with the express purpose of communicating with clinical nurses. The development of this platform is described elsewhere (Jackson & Kennedy, 2015). The program was followed by approximately one third of the hospital's clinical nurses, across the organization's campuses. The content was also available on the organization's website, and was also accessible to nurses without social media accounts.
A special program of content was developed for this platform, by nurse educators, to support clinical education for Move On, a new initiative for inpatients. The purpose of Move On was to reinforce the importance of patient mobilization, and encourage nurses to assist patients to mobilize throughout the day. The goal was to have patients mobilizing as soon as possible to avoid pressure ulcers, loss of strength, reduce delirium and depression, and decrease length of stay. Move On was implemented across the multisite organization, and led by an interprofessional team of healthcare providers (including nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and others).
One of the major aspects of Move On was clinical education on units. Nurses and others from the Move On team would go to a unit and work with nurses to identify opportunities for mobilization, and provide supportive education and coaching. In order to alert nurses to this clinical education, and reinforce the importance of the program, a social media campaign was created to supplement the clinical education.
This social media program consisted of images of different aspects of mobilization (Figure). The images were cropped into the size allocation for Instagram. Text in French and English was added to the images to reinforce a teaching point by nurse educators. The creation of these images was supported by the organization's communications and translation teams.
Sample social media post on Instagram.
These images were shared when clinical education took place. Each photograph was posted on Instagram, Twitter™, and Facebook®. The posts were timed to coincide with the first nursing break of the day (which was roughly standardized across units) so nurses would see them while at work. This was followed by in-unit education in the afternoon. In this way, nurses were alerted to the program early in their shifts and prior to receiving clinical education. The follow-up posts were intended to reinforce the education, and support the integration, of Move On into nursing practice. It was also hoped that nurses who did not receive the teaching, such as those who work night shifts exclusively, would also benefit by receiving information about mobilizing patients via social media.
A full evaluation of the social media campaign was beyond the scope of this project. At a local level, nurse educators reported that nurses had seen the posts and liked the campaign. Nurses welcomed the clinical education, having received notice of it earlier in the day. Analytic data from the posts indicated that the images were viewed by several hundred people each day. The interprofessional team implementing Move On was pleased with the outcomes of the social media campaign and its resultant support for the program.
Social media demonstrates potential as a tool for clinical education. The images were straightforward to produce, and they did not require additional financial resources to distribute. Nurses and nurse educators reported that the images were acceptable to the target audience and contributed to the implementation of Move On. Nurse educators can consider using social media as an adjunct to clinical education and as a tool to reinforce and support teaching. Social media is an accessible and cost-effective way of supporting nursing education in clinical settings.