Developing Your Personal Brand: A Guide to Enhancing Your Nursing Professional Image

Kirsten Gonzalez MSN, APRN, ACNP-AG

July 12, 2023 • 6 min read

What is personal branding? Simply stated, personal branding is the you that you share with the world through your online presence. Your mind first drifts to celebrities, influencers, and others who dominate the social media world, but the reality is anyone can have a personal brand. Let’s explore steps to developing a personal brand as a nurse, how to use social media to enhance your nursing professional image, the benefits of having a strong personal brand, and best practices for creating an effective portfolio to highlight your nursing achievements.

Steps to Developing a Personal Brand As a Nurse

You are familiar with the nursing process; let’s use it to help you develop your personal brand as a nurse:

Assessment and Diagnosis: The first step in developing your personal brand is to assess yourself and diagnose your identity. Figure out what you are trying to achieve with your identity, the change in the world that you would like to see through your work, and what values you embody. Evaluate your life and the life you want to live and see what qualities exist in each of those and whether they coincide. Think about your target audience and the qualities you will need to reach this audience. If you’re looking for a new nursing job, you may think about how you want potential employers to see you. For life on the job, how do you want colleagues and patients to see you?

Planning: This stage is where the personal brand strategy comes to life. What is your narrative, and how do you want people to view your brand? Take note of when you felt like your most authentic self and when you have truly lived and embody that in your personal life and brand. Every interaction is an advertisement of yourself and your brand; what you put into the world is what people will remember of you.

Implementation: Choose the social media platform you wish to use to advertise your brand. Tell your story through posts, videos, blogs, infographics, and any other content you want to make. There are differences between the social platforms and the content that performs best. For example, LinkedIn is used more for networking and sharing nursing news and career updates. Instagram and TikTok might make more sense for connecting with other nurses in a social manner. Create content that aligns with your beliefs and values and make it shareable so others can use your content and help your brand grow. Participate in others’ posts as well. It is not enough to go through and ‘like’ posts; you must engage in conversation and provide your opinion. This communication with others will help you expand your online presence. 

Evaluation: As you grow in your nursing career, your brand will evolve. You may obtain certifications, go back to school, or change jobs, and these accomplishments will affect your brand in the most positive of ways. You will also grow as a person, and your goals will change. These changes are fine; just ensure your brand grows with you.

How to Use Social Media to Enhance Your Nursing Professional Image

Social media can either be your friend or foe. In reality, workplaces Google you; fortunately, you can control what they find. There are also many social media platforms out there, but today we will focus on LinkedIn, one of the more popular websites for networking. Make sure your online presence is professional while also being your authentic self.

Let’s explore a few ways to make your social media profile stand out against other professionals.

Your Profile Picture: Use an authentic photo that embodies your personality. It is best to use a professional picture. It doesn’t have to be a direct headshot, and you don’t have to wear scrubs or business clothes. Let people see who you are outside of scrubs.

Your Headline and Summary: Customize these features to be about you. The headline is your one-liner about yourself, and the summary is what you use to set yourself apart from the competition. For best readability, write about three paragraphs that are three to four sentences each with excellent descriptors to accurately portray you as a healthcare professional.

Your Activity: Build connections with others to expand your network. After all, you are there to network and showcase yourself to colleagues and potential employers for career advancement. Create posts and drive conversations, interact with others’ posts, and enhance your image as a nurse. Interactions increase your traffic and will help to expand your audience.

Benefits of Having a Strong Personal Brand in Nursing

Nurses are ranked as the most trusted profession yet are underrated by the general public. This is where your personal brand as a nurse comes in.

Here are some benefits of having a solid personal brand in nursing:

Your voice is heard. You can bring awareness to things you are passionate about and have credibility as an expert opinion.

You serve as an example for the profession. Nurses are becoming more known on social media and can shape the world’s opinion of nurses. You can take part in this movement.

You become a leader in the field. As you gain more influence, spread your knowledge, and share things you find value in, more people will want to hear your professional opinion.

You open up networking opportunities. Potential employers and leadership in professional organizations will be among those viewing your content. This exposure can lead to more professional opportunities and relationships.

You can use it for your nursing business. Many nurses are leaving the bedside and starting their own businesses; you can use your personal brand to advertise your business.

Best Practices for Creating an Effective Portfolio to Highlight Nursing Achievements

Creating a portfolio to showcase accomplishments in your career is beneficial in nursing. A professional portfolio contains a combination of personal, professional, and academic achievements you have accomplished throughout your career. Keeping up with a professional portfolio is also a way to keep up with your continuing education credits so you are prepared if you get audited when renewing your nursing license.

Below are a few best practices for creating an effective portfolio to highlight your nursing achievements:

Keep your portfolio on paper in a binder or create a digital portfolio.

Create your portfolio when you graduate from nursing school, or right now if you are established in your career.

Update your portfolio every six months or as needed if you experience a job change, earn an award, or need to update your credentials.

Use your portfolio as a reference guide when choosing the next career move to help you establish the steps needed to achieve your goal.

Whether you maintain it to see how far you’ve come as a nurse, use it to scope your trajectory, or when participating in interviews with future management, a high-quality nursing portfolio will always be a beneficial resource for you to maintain. One day, you will open it up, and it will serve as a reflection of your nursing career for you to look back on.

Now that you have read about the components and benefits of building and launching your personal brand strategy to enhance your professional image as a nurse, you have a lot of work to do. Remember, always be your authentic self, celebrate your achievements, and show the world who you are and what you bring to the table as a nurse.

Author Bio

Kirsten Gonzalez MSN, APRN, ACNP-AG, has been practicing nursing for ten years and recently became an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner for Advanced Heart Failure patients requiring Left Ventricular Assist Devices. She has also taught three semesters of students as a clinical instructor for nursing students completing their critical care rotations. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and spending time with her family and her dog.