Empowering Nurse Leaders to Embrace Social Media
We consider ourselves social media evangelists. So we were thrilled to have a chance to reach our largest-ever group of potential converts at Mayo Clinic: the Department of Nursing. Nurses represent one in four Mayo employees. Over the past year and a half, Public Affairs teamed up with Nursing representatives to collaborate on a project to educate nurses about social media. The result: a one-hour hands-on training program that is spreading the social media gospel among Mayo Clinic nurses.
Historically, Nursing leadership was hesitant to embrace social media. They simply didn’t see it as a priority for such a large department. In fact, they thought it could be a hazard. When we spoke with unit leaders, they expressed concerns about nurses exposing protected health information when taking Facebook photos with patients, or being distracted by Instagram while on the clock.
But social media is a key part of Mayo Clinic’s communications strategy. It helps our clinical staff stay up-to-date on practice and research developments. It’s an efficient way to communicate with patients and their families to foster community and continues our strong word-of-mouth tradition. We’ve always relied on employees and patients to share good news about Mayo Clinic – social media makes that even easier.
We successfully secured the buy-in of the Mayo Clinic Nursing Executive Committee, hence the Nursing Social Media Workgroup was born. The workgroup includes both Nursing leaders, who understand the importance–and complexity–of communications on the front lines of patient care, and Public Affairs staff, who can help clinical team members apply digital communications tools appropriately.
The workgroup’s first task was to identify knowledge gaps and barriers specifically for nurses. We also wanted our training to meet nurses’ learning style. We asked our Nursing colleagues: Who should be trained first? Start with unit leaders, they suggested, since nurses are accustomed to information cascading through their units. How do nurses prefer to learn? By engaging in discussions that make social media relevant to their daily work, rather than sitting through a lecture on high-level guidelines. How should we end the training? Give leaders several easy ways to share the training with their units, so they don’t have to determine next steps on their own.
In response, the workgroup created a one-hour training session tailored to the learning needs and preferences of nurses, that included:
- Overview of Mayo Clinic’s social media philosophy, including a video of Pam Johnson, Chief Nursing Officer, and Lee Aase, MCSMN Director, encouraging nurses to engage with social media (below).
- Review of social media guidelines.
- Role-play scenarios based on situations nurses have encountered.
- Discussion of next steps for leaders to take with their units.
We developed a quarterly plan to activate social media “super-users” within Nursing units. Super-users will act as liaisons between Nursing staff and the workgroup, will answer questions from their colleagues, and encourage appropriate use of social media among nurses.
To measure our progress, we sent out pre- and post-surveys to every training group. The survey questions focus on how comfortable nurses felt in certain social media scenarios. The pre-surveys show a wide array of comfort levels, from “not at all” to “very.” After just an hour of training, nurse leaders’ answers cluster around “comfortable” to “very comfortable.“ It’s a trend our workgroup is happy to see–and that we hope will continue as we educate more nurses.
Through this project, we helped one of our largest groups of employees understand how social media, when used appropriately, can be an asset rather than a threat.
How have you reached out to educate your staff about the power of social media?
Margaret Shepard is a Communications Specialist on Mayo Clinic's Social & Digital Innovation team. Margaret received her Master’s of Science degree in Communications from North Dakota State University and joined the team in May of 2015. Margaret consults with Mayo Clinic departments on how to use social media strategically and works with Marketing to further digital strategies for engagement and strategically use organic social media as part of larger Marketing strategies.
Shea Jennings is a Communications Associate on Mayo Clinic's Social & Digital Innovation team. A recent graduate of Yale University, Shea joined the team at Mayo Clinic in July 2016. She supports the Mayo Clinic Department of Medicine’s continuous professional development courses, using social media and digital tools to promote additional attendance for the courses, and also to improve the course experience and participant engagement.