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All UNMC students are expected to abide by the UNMC Code of Conduct and to behave in a manner consistent with professional standards.  Below are guidelines for interpretation of the Code of Conduct in the context of the use of social media. 

Personal Material on Social Media     
Students are entitled to enjoy an active social life and free speech, but remember that if put online, behavior once thought of as ‘youthful exuberance’ is available forever.  There is a mistaken belief that content which has been deleted from a site is no longer accessible, but these postings may be viewable by licensing boards or future employers.  Preventing friends or family from posting images or information about you may be difficult, but make it a point to tell them about your professional role and explain expectations regarding social media.

Social media can blur the boundary between an individual’s public and professional life.  Always remember – once something is digital, it is forever!

Patient Cases, Images & Research CMS (Medicare) reg. 140-2 requires that all sensitive information meet encryption standards during transmission while HIPAA requires that the electronic devices use unique ID’s and be password protected.  Be sure that all mobile devices used to store or communicate patient information, images etc. cannot be accessed if misplaced or stolen.  Protect the information you store on all USB’s, mobile phones, tablets and other devices with encryption.

When uploading unusual cases, even when the files are stripped of identifying information, the individual may be identified because the case is so “unusual” and because the social media application gives information like your hometown and where you work.  Consideration should also be given to how such comments and posts reflect on your profession and the potential impact it could have on the public’s trust.

Be aware that standards of patient privacy and confidentiality must be maintained in all environments, including social media environments.  In addition to the personal consequences, significant financial consequences to your institution, such as significant fines and restriction from receipt of federal funds may exist.  Many federal regulations and agencies are involved in privacy and confidentiality (HIPAA, CMS, DHHS, etc.).

Ensure the content you are posting or sending electronically is appropriate for the audience, the venue and social media site where it is being posted. 

Do not use social media for subject recruitment and Informed Consent without IRB approval.    Many social media sites share information with marketers and other sites.   You give them permission when you “accept” the terms and conditions for using the site or software 

Social Media Privacy Settings for Personal and Professional Use    Some people do keep separate social media profiles for work and personal life.  This is important when you have a very public job.  Remember that ‘private’ settings may not necessarily make every message private or exclusive.  These private pages should still reflect your professional role positively.

Maintain a healthy skepticism and be aware of the limits of social media privacy settings.  Assume the terms, conditions and settings can be changed without notification and that privacy settings may be compromised or breached by hackers.

Social Media, Email  Both Personal and Professional     Email can sometimes be a challenge.  Only use your work email address for work related activities. Set up a different email account for personal use.  If the e mail is highly confidential, consider the use of email filters that allow only those on your “safe” list to send or forward you emails.  Use systems that require any unknown sender to first apply and allow you to accept or decline any email address request.

Be conscious of your social media image and take ownership of your social media activities.  Ask yourself, would my family want to see this?  Also, follow the professional regulatory and ethical standards governing your profession. 

Copyright Violations     
If you post something, remember to consider the copyright and intellectual property rights of others and the university.  If you have questions about copyright, contact the UNMC Library (

UNMC Policies     
Be careful that your actions or comments on social media sites do not violate any university policies or professional codes of conduct required for future licensure.  Be mindful of the mission statements of your future professional organizations and the impact for your actions as you plan for your future.  

Do not post informal, personal or derogatory comments about patients, colleagues, peers or employers on social media forums.