The administration of Columbia University School of Nursing has established this policy for the Columbia Nursing community to follow when engaging in social media. Its purpose is to ensure that our faculty, staff, students, and institutional reputation are presented to the public and the media in the most accurate and favorable light as possible. Policy development is guided by institutional objectives, regulatory, accreditation, and legal requirements, as well as best practice from evidence-based literature.
This policy applies to all interactive and social media, including, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, YouTube, and websites or blogs, whether for personal or business use. It applies whenever Columbia Nursing faculty, staff, or students post to their own sites or issue comments on other sites. Posting to any social media platform in a work capacity represents Columbia University Irving Medical Center and Columbia University School of Nursing and is treated accordingly.
Social Media Policy Guidelines
The Columbia Identity
You may use your Columbia title for identification purposes in accordance with the Faculty Handbook. However, if you do, you must make it clear that you are not representing Columbia Nursing, Columbia University Irving Medical Center, or any other affiliated institutions. For example, “About me,” “Profile,” or other bio sections should include language such as, “My posts represent my personal views and not those of Columbia University.” The Columbia name and logo may not be used for commercial purposes. Faculty, staff, and students are prohibited from using their Columbia identification, which could be interpreted as a university endorsement. Get more information.
Confidentiality, Patient Privacy, and Security
Columbia Nursing policies on confidentiality and proprietary information apply to social media, as they do to all other forms of communication. Special care should be taken to protect patient and student privacy and all other confidential information with which we are entrusted. Posting information, commentary, and photographs about patients, students, or cadavers on social media sites without consent is prohibited. In keeping with these policies, confidential information about patients and students—even if the information has been de-identified or is visible only to restricted audiences—should not be shared on social media. In addition, in order to maintain the safety and security of the Columbia community, images of secure or restricted areas should not be posted or otherwise distributed.
Interacting with Patients
Clinicians, staff, and students are cautioned about connecting with or “friending” patients or patients' families on social media networks. Use the same judgment you would employ regarding any other type of social interaction with patients. Clinicians may choose to create a business or professional “fan” page that is separate from their personal Facebook page as an alternative to connecting with patients directly.
Websites and Blogs
Websites and blogs should follow best practices for disseminating health information, including clearly identifying authors and reviewers and indicating the date on which the content was last reviewed for accuracy.
Disclaimers for Clinicians
Clinicians should consider including a notice that their posts do not constitute medical advice and a warning that individuals refrain from posting personal information. Clinicians should also be aware that giving medical advice over the internet to a patient in another state may constitute the unlicensed practice of medicine. All electronic interaction with patients must comply with current CUIMC or other applicable privacy and data security policies, including the requirement to obtain a patient’s written authorization. For more information, contact the CUIMC Office of Communications and Public Affairs at 212-305-3900.
Columbia Nursing’s policies on professionalism, prohibiting discrimination and harassment, and use of computer and other university resources apply to social media, as they do to all other forms of communication. Individuals must take responsibility for all material that they post to the internet, and posts should accurately reflect academic, clinical, or other expertise. Reasonable steps should be taken to correct errors and update material, as needed.