1. Rainford, Melanie MSN, RN, NPD-BC

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Last summer, I joined the Journal for Nurses in Professional Development's (JNPD) Editorial Board as their first social media column writer. I knew, with the right strategy, I could leverage my previously casual use of social media to design a professional social media campaign. Over the last year, the more I used social media with a professional lens, the more I realized I completely underestimated its power.

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At the most basic level, social media refers to any online venue where information is shared in a virtual community and/or network; essentially, it allows for real-time information exchange. When we, nursing professional development practitioners, use these platforms to post forward-thinking articles, demonstrative videos, and digestible infographics, it (a) demonstrates our capacity as informed leaders in the healthcare sector, (b) advances topics relevant to our specialty, and (c) cultivates knowledge in new and existing followers.


Although information exchange has clear benefits, social media's power grows exponentially when users connect across shared interests. Venues such as Facebook and Instagram foster personal connections, strengthening camaraderie and trust, whereas Twitter favors brevity. With Twitter posts being no more than 280 characters, this option proves to be advantageous for those on-the-go, seeking a tailored, concise experience.


LinkedIn(TM) is the leading networking service exclusively for professionals, with more than 690 million users worldwide (LinkedIn, 2020). This professional networking platform directly connects nursing professional development practitioners with health care's most influential and established leaders while equally amplifying the voices of up-and-coming leaders. Its expansiveness eases the ability to diversify and evolve professional networks (Camplejohn, 2019) and increases potential for career advancement opportunities.


Another benefit of social media is once you are connected with like-minded individuals, you can directly engage with them! The prospect of identifying others interested in the same niche topic improves with the absence of geographic limitations. Establishing "microcommunities" in online platforms (e.g., LinkedIn or Facebook groups) with other enthusiasts allows more in-depth exploration and analysis. Additional approaches to direct engagement, especially for subspecialty topics of interest, include subscribed e-mail distribution lists (e.g., Listservs) and online discussion forums or message boards (e.g., the Association for Nursing Professional Development's Member Discussion Forum). This level of direct engagement can position you well for further nursing inquiry and collaboration.


Recently, social media demonstrated the extent of its influence. During the COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) crisis, healthcare providers across the country spoke truth to power via uncensored pictures and videos on their social media feeds, and the result was astounding. By collating their voices using the popular hashtag #GetMePPE, healthcare workers raised awareness of their shared experience (, 2020b). Media outlets picked up these stories and reported them as international news, compelling those in power to confront the reality at the frontline. With a newfound global platform, transitioned from a grassroots movement into the largest national coalition of PPE donor database projects, providing over 1 million pieces of PPE to healthcare workers by early May 2020 (, 2020a).


This past year, I've gained much insight into the influence social media can offer. It is what you make of it! If used with intention, these platforms offer you an opportunity to engage with a robust network of like-minded professionals and exponentially enhance your sphere of influence.


At JNPD, we understand social media's value. One year ago, we launched JNPD's first LinkedIn webpage (search "JNPD"), and as this heads to press, we have just broken over 1,000 LinkedIn followers. Our Facebook (search "JNPD") and Twitter (@JNPDonline) accounts have over 2,200 and 1,600 followers, respectively. With direct engagement, these accounts uniquely position us to bridge the gap between publications with how it relates to you in your day-to-day practice. If you are not already following, be sure to follow us and contribute to our community of appreciative inquiry. I look forward to connecting with you online!




Camplejohn D. (2019). The best ways to use social media to expand your network. Harvard Business Review. [Context Link] (2020a). May day: 1 million PPE matched. [Context Link] (2020b). Origin story. [Context Link]


LinkedIn (2020). About LinkedIn(TM). [Context Link]