‘Nursing has a branding problem’ on TikTok, according to new report

Social media is deters people from starting nursing careers, ShiftKey survey finds

The world is facing a “global health emergency” because of the shortage of nurses, and Georgia is one state where they are needed most. According to a new report, social media may even be dissuading Gen Z workers from starting careers in the field.

ShiftKey surveyed 1,000 Gen Z nurses for its “Social Media, Gen Z and the Future of Nursing” report and found social media, particularly TikTok, was a top source of information for potential future health care workers. The survey revealed 66% use it for career research and 16% said it as their most influential source of work information — even above school, family and friends.

The health care technology marketplace analyzed around 749,000 posts of nursing-related content on TikTok from November 2023 to May 2024. Around 64% featured negative content.

“The report’s findings are a wake-up call for the health care industry as a whole, especially as we try to fortify our future workforce in a field where people are leaving the profession and not being replaced,” Mike Vitek, CEO of ShiftKey, said in the report.

“The influence of social media on Gen Z’s career decisions is undeniable, with 43% of Gen Z who use social media to consider the nursing profession being shocked by the content, 25% being scared, and 23% being confused. If the perception of nursing on these platforms doesn’t change, the number of new nursing students will continue to decline.”

The technology marketplace’s researchers ultimately laid the TikTok trend at the feet of social media algorithms, stating that respondents who decided not to enter the nursing field recalled “being fed negative social media content” at a higher rate than those who entered the profession.

“Nursing has a branding problem, and it’s clear from our survey results that giving young people a realistic view ― both the good and the bad ― of this profession on social media is what will attract them to enter the health care field,” Vitek said.