An Oregon oncology nurse posted a video on Tik Tok saying that she does not wear masks in public, continues to travel and allows her children to have playdates. Someone who viewed the video reported her to her employer. She was placed on administrative leave.
In the video, this nurse apparently is in the break room at work and wearing scrubs with a stethoscope around her neck. The hospital felt the nurse displayed “cavalier disregard for the seriousness of this pandemic and her indifference towards physical distancing and masking outside of work.”
Her employer responded with a statement saying that the video does not speak for the health system: “We also want to assure you that this one careless statement does not reflect the position of Salem Health or the hardworking and dedicated caregivers who work here.”
I have several thoughts on this issue. The first is to advise you to be very careful of what you put on social media. Do not do a Tik-Tok video in scrubs in your break room. Even though you are on break, you are still on hospital property. Even if you were not at work, you are considered a nurse 24/7 and while you may not like this, if your statement can impact your employer, that is not being professional as a nurse. Before doing a video or putting something on social media, ask yourself, “What is the purpose?” I am not sure what this nurse’s purpose was in posting her video. If your purpose is to educate the public that is one thing but if it is to create controversy or show your hospital or health facility is doing something wrong, that is another thing.
But my biggest concern is freedom of speech. This nurse should be able to speak her mind regardless of whether or not it’s in line with company policies.
While there are very strong feelings on both sides of this pandemic, including whether to get vaccinated, whether to wear a mask, whether to travel, whether to allow your children to have playdates … all of these are very polarizing issues. However, I do believe every nurse, just like every person, has the right to free speech and should not have his or her job placed on the line because of it. Check out these related blog posts. https://empowerednurses.org/beware-of-using-social-media-as-a-nurse/ https://yournurseattorney.com/speech-is-not-always-free/
What are your thoughts? Let us read your comments below.
Ann Spafford says
I think she violated the professional business code – she jeopardized public safety.
I am a nurse, but, I am a Veteran & American first. I totally uphold anyone’s right to free speech, the 1A. I actually served in a war, representing the values of our country. If we don’t support the 1A, then we, as professionals, undermine our colleagues & our profession. We are basically saying, ‘by virtue of your profession, you are no longer an individual, you belong to this facility’. Where is the ‘diversity & inclusivity’ in this?
I do understand that personal videos should not be made while at work, on the property. But, to fire someone because of their personal opinions, is a fear tactic & makes employees into cogs, not free-thinking, individuals who are capable of having divergent thoughts & views, yet still accomplish great work & care for their employer & patients.
The 1A is specifically designed for opinions we don’t agree with. There is no need to protect speech with which we agree.
Nurses are the most trusted professionals and this nurse did a disservice to that profession. Social media is a place where nurse can make an impact on the public. Going against science and evidence based guidelines is not becoming of healthcare professionals. Just because I have freedom of speech does not mean I won’t face consequences if speech is controversial, defames others or promotes harm (in this case exposes others to a potentially dangerous disease if guidelines aren’t followed.
Linda Scheetz RN, BSN says
Other than the info of the nurse being fired, can we take into account the emotional impact of the virus, working very long hours, and the fear is so ingrained, nurses also need an outlet for the endless suffering they witness and work with.
They just need to be more cognizant of how they express thmselves. The hospital should have looked into assisting her emmotional distress, instead of firing her.
Sharice RN says
The right to free speech is a fundamental right guaranteed to the citizens of the United States however, false statements of fact are not protected by the First Amendment. Using a mask to slow the spread of an airborne virus is not something that there is debate about. It is accepted science and taught in the first semester of nursing school. The tone of this video was bragging, viewers might infer that as a healthcare worker, this nurse had some type of special insider knowledge about the virus. As a licensed nurse, specialized knowledge regarding disease transmission is a part of every curriculum, and one would assume that as a licensed nurse, she has attended nursing school and learned how to stop the transmission of pathogens. One would also assume that as Mother, she takes every step to prevent her children from becoming ill. The way she used two factors of her life which are typically areas that are well respected by others; A nursing career and being a mother to gain trust from viewers and then she brags about not wearing a mask. She uses her position to promote a false statement of facts and it is essentially a lie. Nobody can have an opinion on a scientific fact without some very rigorous research. There is an entire process that is required to change scientific facts, and that will never happen regarding wearing a mask to prevent a an airborne illness.As a society we have to stop letting people get away with their blatant disregard for the truth. It is causing such big problems for our entire country. One is free to have an opinion regarding what type of mask, use a filter or a neck gaiter but wearing a mask to prevent airborne spread of droplets is accepted science.