Issue: With the proliferation of social media and the blurring of online and real-world lives, today’s healthcare professionals must constantly work to protect and manage their online reputation. Unfortunately, they are often not taught this skill as part of their healthcare education. Although many healthcare educators agree that this topic needs to be taught to students, researchers have not presented a formalized pathway to support this type of instruction. Evidence: Research on e-professionalism, a concept that addresses an individual’s online professional image, was originally presented in 2009 and has continued to be investigated with research supporting its importance. Scholars in the field have found that the cost of having a nonexistent or poor online reputation can cause a lack of trust in the patient–provider relationship and, in extreme situations, can cause healthcare providers to face criminal charges, lose their jobs, or be expelled from healthcare programs. For example, in 2014 an emergency room nurse posted a photo to Instagram of an empty trauma room and was fired from her position for what the hospital called “insensitivity.” These types of social media posts have occurred consistently over the last decade, highlighting the need for formalized online professionalism instruction in healthcare education. Implications: This article suggests the use of the extended parallel process model as a guide for healthcare educators to use when creating instruction on issues related to e-professionalism and online reputation management. The extended parallel process model has been successfully used to create health campaigns since the 1970s and is a respected and frequently used health communication model. This article shows that the extended parallel process model supports a systematic approach to e-professionalism instruction that allows it to be easily integrated into existing healthcare curricula.
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