More on Workforce

Social media deterring new nurses from entering the field

Research says the data underscores the impact that social media, particularly TikTok, is having on Gen Z's work decisions.

Jeff Lagasse, Editor

Photo: Tim Robberts/Getty Images

Social media, which has become a primary source of information for many Gen Z individuals, is emerging as an influential factor in whether people decide to become nurses – and according to from workforce technology company ShiftKey, social media outlets such as TikTok are creating a branding problem for the profession, and dissuading new nurses from entering the field.

The study on the future of the healthcare workforce surveyed 1,000 Gen Z respondents 18-26 years old who are in the nursing profession or had previously considered the career.

The data underscores the impact that social media, particularly TikTok, is having on Gen Z's work decisions. Social media is the top source of information in future nurses' career decisions – 66% use social media for career research, and 16% rate it as their most influential source of work information. That's more than family, school and friends.

ShiftKey conducted an analysis of nursing-related content on TikTok from November 2023 to May 2024, finding approximately 749,000 posts. Of these posts, 64% were negative vs. 36% positive.

"While social media can provide valuable insights, algorithms can often present a skewed or unrealistic view of the nursing profession, potentially deterring individuals from pursuing it," authors wrote.

Gen Z'ers who chose nursing are 12% more likely to have immediate family in nursing than those who declined to pursue the profession. And the family's opinion matters: 64% of respondents who chose nursing were positively impacted by their family.

By contrast, 75% of those who declined to pursue nursing say it would have been impactful if someone in their family helped them into the profession.


One of the conclusions drawn in the report is that nursing has a branding problem. TikTok emerged as the most influential social platform, pointing to the significant sway of digital content in Gen Z's perception of the nursing profession. Seventy-eight percent of Gen Z'ers who avoided nursing say more positive social media content about the profession could have impacted their decision.

At the same time, people who chose not to go into nursing recall being fed negative social media content at a higher rate than those who did – including issues with patients (50% vs. 44%) and mental health issues from working in the field (45% vs. 39%).

TV can have an impact as well, the data showed. Sixty-five percent of respondents say they have a favorite TV show about nursing or medicine, but Gen Z'ers who chose nursing are 13% more likely to count a nursing show as a favorite than those who passed on the profession.

Mental health is another critical factor in people's decisions. Eighty-seven percent of Gen Z'ers currently considering nursing are impacted by mental health considerations. Eighty-seven percent are also impacted by the hours and flexibility of a nursing career, which authors said underscores a need for organizations to offer flexibility in order to retain nursing professionals.


A survey published in May by ANM Healthcare showed that 80% of nurses think 2024 will be either no better or worse for them than 2023.

In a finding the survey found concerning, over-one third of nurses surveyed (35%) said it is extremely likely that they will change jobs in 2024. The majority (55%) said it is very likely or somewhat likely that they will do so.

To prioritize these concerns, the survey asked nurses what's important to them in their workplaces in 2024. Priority number one was compensation. Three quarters of nurses (75%) said better pay is extremely important to them, followed by 68% who said more nurses per patient is extremely important. Fifty-eight percent said better schedules are extremely important.

Staffing issues and an ongoing nursing shortage continue to cause challenges for the nation's nursing workforce. A full 91% of respondents to a 2023 nurse.org survey believe the nursing shortage is getting worse and that burnout, poor working conditions and inadequate pay are the primary causes.

Meanwhile, 79% said their units are inadequately staffed, while 71% said improving staffing ratios would have the greatest impact on the nursing shortage. And of course, nurses want better pay. Fifty-five percent saw a pay increase during the last year, but 75% still feel underpaid, and 52% believe their hospital does not pay nurses with similar experience equally.

Jeff Lagasseiseditor of Healthcare FinanceNews.
Healthcare FinanceNews is aĹýMedia publication.