The Iowa Nurses Association Needs a Lesson in Social Media Etiquette

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The executive director of the Iowa Nurses Association made a comment on the American Nurses Association’s facebook page in response to other comments made on a wall post by Terri Polick questioning the censorship of the ANA. This representative of the Iowa chapter of the ANA essentially called Vernon Dutton (a nurse advocate and social media enthusiast) an ass and questions his credibility and motives.

Bad form Iowa Nurses Association.

This is just not good social media practice. Not good at all.

The wall post by Terri was a link to the following post on Nurse Ratched’s Place which questions if the ANA is practicing censorship on their social media pages. Censorship: Don’t Talk About Amanda Trujillo.

The American Nurses Association gave a  thoughtful and appropriate response.

American Nurses Association ANA’s position on the Amanda Trujillo case remains unchanged: we continue to monitor the case and support the right of all nurses to engage in patient education and advocacy. There has been a misunderstanding. INA deleted a post that did not seem relevant to INA. We do send state nurses associations information about what is going on at ANA, like news about our new ANF director, and they can choose to share that, including on their social media sites. We do not direct any state nurses associations on how to manage their social media accounts or their comment policies. Regarding ANA’s social media pages, our comment policy is posted on our Facebook Info tab. We welcome all respectful views on the many topics affecting nursing, including the Amanda Trujillo case, and thank you all for contributing to the discussions!

The Iowa Nurses Association took a different approach in their response.

Iowa Nurses Association There seems to be quite a bit of confusion out there – for no good reason that I can see. I am the executive director of the INA and guess what? ANA has not censored anything that we’ve done. I’ve never talked to Vernon, never met him, nor do I understand his motives. We did have a staff member talk to him and there was obviously a gap in the communication. I did not participate in the phone call, but there were obviously some assumptions made and you know what “assume” dissected into three words means.

I think that the response from the Iowa ANA needs no explanation as to why it is both inappropriate and unbecoming of a professional organization. I sincerely hope that the ANA will participate is some social media coaching with them and discuss how this sort of backhanded remark on public social platform can reflect negatively on their organization and the nursing profession as a whole.

The level of appropriateness of social media interactions varies among personal and professional use. When you speak as a professional organization, you speak on behalf of your members. While I don’t know any Iowa nurses personally, I would imagine they would be quite upset to hear their professional organizations calling nurses asses on facebook. That’s not behavior becoming of a professional organization. It’s not behavior that warrants professional dues and involvement of members.

Social media behavior like this needs to be acknowledge, learned from, and result in public apologies to those it insulted like Vernon Dutton and perhaps Iowa ANA members.

For the sake of nurses everywhere, I humbly request the Iowa Nurses Association to get their social media act together.

If they are in need of a plan to better handle their social media interactions, the information is easily found on google or any number of Social Media Guides.

Remember, personal use and professional organization  use of social media are two very different ballgames. Make sure you know the rules to the game you are playing and do your best to follow them.


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6 thoughts on “The Iowa Nurses Association Needs a Lesson in Social Media Etiquette”

  1. I agree with Greg. There is a reason why they call it disruptive technology!

    In the old days, you sent letters to INA. It took about a week for someone to get it, then however long to reply.
    In the new days, post to Facebook, etc., and it’s right there.

    In the old days, you had to plan, plan, plan to organize protests, etc., (if it wasn’t impromptu).
    Now, send a message and pouf! Instant flash mob!

    In the old days, you absolutely positively had to drive xx miles to see your doctor, when all he/she was going to do was look at you and send you somewhere else. It might take weeks to see that specialist, etc.

    Today, you come to my clinic, see the doc near your house, get your referral, and maybe even see the specialist if he/she can see you now and get you booked for his/her next available via telehealth.

    Disruptive? Yes, to the old norms, but responsive to new realities. Some people just will never get it, because they don’t want to, no matter how good it is.

  2. Greg Mercer, MSN

    In the spirit of empiricism, I have posted on both INA and ANA FB pages, taking their strong assertions against censorship at face value for the sake of argument. Often censors are far less enthusiastic in the light of public scrutiny. We shall see.

  3. Greg Mercer, MSN

    This has been an interesting chain of events for many reasons, but I wish to comment on what it reflects on society’s adaptation to Social Media. Whenever new groups emerge to compete for limited attention and influence, older groups are bound to have feelings about potential rivals, especially when public differences of opinion emerge. Traditional organizations, ANA and INA included, are hierarchical with budgets, rules, and all that caution and control issues that come with such. Social media now allows more ad-hoc, loosely organized, extremely low cost groups to air public views just as widely as their traditional neighbors, but far more rapidly, fearlessly, and nimbly – no committees, no budgets to worry about losing. Traditional managers are bound to feel threatened and irritated by their bold and trendy new neighbors. They are also accustomed to private, tightly controlled communications, while Social Media involves very public communication with little or no control over distribution. Speculating, of course, I can imagine an traditional org manager posting what seems a routine memo, only to experience sharp shock at the rapidity, assertiveness (which could easily be taken as disrespect by one used to automatic deference in such matters), and volume of the responses generated. What was until recently entirely in-house can now go public and ‘viral’ and attract much unwanted and unfavorable attention. When someone like an INA official labels people confused “for no good reason” and uses that tired “assume” cliche, at the same time clearly assuming that his staff can do no wrong – why else blame Vernon so confidently? – he likely hasn’t yet learned these new realities. What flies with your subordinates can be, as in this case, clumsy, inflammatory, and rather unprofessional in public. Hopefully there will be some learning about communications at INA.

  4. Seems like the INA and the ANA may want to retain the services of a social media consultant. Looks like you’d have a full-time job Brittney. I’ll gladly give you a recommendation.

  5. While it is very tempting to issue a call to nurses to withold their dues and support of Nursing Associations for their non-support of Amanda Trujillo, the reality is that very few of us belong to or pay dues to such organisations. To most of us in the trenches these organizations have simply been irrelevant and superfelous to our daily practice. Perhaps if we had been more involved, things would be different. After all, when I look at the history of nurses and nursing, we have often been our own worst enemies. We have allowed others to define our practice, controll our working conditions, even for a large part of our history we have let others run our system of professional education. All of this of course is directly related to nursing being a women’s profession and the public perception of womens roles. Consider other licensed professions such as engineers, electricians, architects, etc. Can you imagine any of them putting up with the crap nurses do? Or allowing others so much influence and authority over their practice?

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