Nurses de-stress and express themselves on TikTok

Nurses across the country are among millions of users posting short, expressive videos on the fast-growing and often controversial social media platform TikTok.

Generation Z and millennial nurses told the posts help to relieve job stress, educate people about what they do and are just plain fun to create and view.

Those benefits are relevant considering the high turnover rate among new nurses. A study published in 2014 in the journal Policy, Politics & Nursing Practice found about 17.5% of newly-licensed RNs leave their first nursing jobs within a year and 33.5% leave within two years.

The TikTok videos by nurses, in which they poke fun at their jobs or take a lighthearted look at the reality of what they do, raise concerns about professionalism in some cases. For example, a nurse posted a TikTok video about giving a flu shot. This particular nurse also mocked patients for faking pain.

And the social media app has come under scrutiny for its practices and politics. Specifically, there have been lawsuits looking at TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, and how it handles young users’ data, as well as TikTok’s ties to the government.

Good or bad, the reality is nurses are using the app, which reportedly has more than 1 billion users worldwide.

We talked with three nurses who find TikTok a great way to connect and be heard. They shared their thoughts about using the platform as nurses.

Rattay’s take on TikTok

Andrew Rattay, BSN, RN

At age 25, Andrew Rattay, BSN, RN, has practiced in a community hospital’s critical care unit for about a year.

Rattay said he stumbled onto TikTok when he noticed his girlfriend and her friend laughing hysterically as they shared videos.

He has been posting on TikTok since September 2019 and has about 51,000 followers, many of whom he said are nurses and CNAs.

“In my bio on TikTok, it states that nurses can be stressed at times. Let’s change that,” he said. “I’m trying with my content to relieve a lot of the stress from the nursing community and create a funny content base for nurses and healthcare providers.”

“Whenever they are on their little breaks, they can scroll through TikTok, see something relatable, laugh about it and then sort of be inspired to go back to work feeling refreshed,” Rattay added.

Nurses seem to flock to TikTok, according to Rattay, and whether they’re posting malicious content or not, it’s still somewhat relatable and makes other nurses feel a sense of community.

In one video post, Rattay is starting an IV for another nurse who asked for help. He gets the IV started and tries to be humble but has that big-head moment.

Still, Rattay has boundaries about what to post and what not to post. Walking the fine line between being real and professional isn’t always easy, he said.

“I know potentially millions of people are going to see what I post, so I need to be careful and kind of tread lightly,” he …read more

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