Nursing students and practicing nurses both clearly seek out online means of congregating to share our stories, ask for advice, and collaborate (“clearly” because of the sheer number of online actively posting nurses). I won’t address the issue of blogging as a student or nurse in this post, because it is a sticky issue likely to generate multiple tangents. For now, suffice it to say that even though nursing bureaucracy is complicating the matter of nurses blogging, plenty of nursing and some nursing student blogs are still out there and current, so if it’s blogs you want, Google can help you find some.
I’m thinking more of forums and communities right now. Plenty of sites such as OnlineLPNtoRN.org fill a niche, and many present their own lists of forums. Overall, though, if it’s general connection you seek, check out http://allnurses.com/, https://www.nurseconnect.com/, and Facebook groups and pages. The first two contain current message boards or community blogs, with “current” being vital because a nurse can go nuts going through defunct nursing message boards. Similar sites spring up and then wither away, and I have no idea why some do this and others stick around. The allnurses.com site in particular has been around for some time and is still going strong.
I’m not a Facebook fan, but because so many people are (especially younger people, including the student population), it is a good place to find thriving nursing communities. Facebook is stuck right now between pages and groups, but if you’re on Facebook and used to how it works, the difference is not too difficult to navigate. If you’re a student, your school may have its very own nursing school group. Mine did. We hid it from everyone and thought we were pretty smart, but someone printed out our antics and showed it to our dean—consider this a fairly representative cautionary tale. Just keep in mind that before you go posting or answering questions, anyone might see what you write, regardless of your privacy settings.
To find a Facebook page or group to join, search for nursing, nursing school, nursing students, and so on in the Facebook search box and then winnow your way through the results. Even large organizations such as the American Nursing Association keep Facebook pages, and, again, the important issue here is that people respond to posts regularly. Facebook nursing-related pages/groups are a good way to give and receive advice on just about anything: you can get advice on how to study for NCLEX, join groups related to your specialty, receive newsfeed updates about current research, and discover when your favorite scrubs outlet is having a sale. My school group posted study group schedules, tips on how to memorize class-specific material, and ideas about the best prep materials, so these types of resources can be as general or specific as you’re willing to seek out.
If Twitter is more your style, as it is for me, you’re also in luck. Nurses who are more industrious than I have spent considerable time compiling lists of tweeting nurses, and these lists can be found most easily at http://listorious.com. Again, type nursing into the search box and bask in the plethora of lists available to you. Probably the most comprehensive list is curated by @nursingpins, and you can see and/or follow it at http://listorious.com/nursingpins/nurses. Twitter nursing communities also abound in the form of hash tags (try #rnchat or #nocshift for examples).
These days there’s no reason to limit yourself to people you know in the skin. Collaborate internationally. Open your mind. And don’t forget that you are a resource to others as well.