ShiftKey’s new report on social media, Gen Z and the future of nursing finds social media may be deterring new nursing professionals

Social media, a powerful tool in the hands of Gen Z, is not just a source of work information but also the most influential factor in their career decision journey – a trend that may be giving the nursing profession a branding problem for young people

June 4, 2024 (DALLAS) – ShiftKey, a leading technology marketplace disrupting healthcare through data and workforce empowerment, today unveiled findings from its report “Social Media, Gen Z and the Future of Nursing.”

ShiftKey’s new study on the future of the healthcare workforce surveyed 1,000 Gen Z (ages 18-26) respondents who are in the nursing profession or had previously considered the career ― the report looked to gather information on what influenced their decision. 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, which is 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.

In contrast, 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. This highlights the significant sway that having a more complete picture of the nursing profession can have on career choices.

“The report's findings are a wake-up call for the healthcare 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,” said Mike Vitek, CEO of ShiftKey. “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. 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 healthcare field.”

Additional highlights from the report include:

  • 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. 78% of Gen Z'ers who avoided nursing say more positive social media content about the profession could have impacted their decision.

    • 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%).
  • Navigating influences: Respondents who chose to pursue a career in nursing recalled seeing more positive content on social media about nursing than those who did not choose to pursue nursing.
  • TV can be impactful, too: 65% 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 a critical decision factor: 87% of Gen Z'ers currently considering nursing are impacted by mental health considerations. 87% are also impacted by the hours and flexibility of a nursing career. This underscores the need for healthcare facilities to address these concerns and embrace options that promote flexibility to attract and retain nursing professionals.
  • Gen Z wants to make a difference: Young people are driven by a strong desire to make a difference and embrace challenges. This passion and dedication are key factors influencing their career choices.

    • 91% of Gen Z'ers considering nursing say they're influenced by the ability to make a difference in people’s lives.

Read the full report here:

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About ShiftKey

ShiftKey is a technology company committed to transforming access and integrity in the workforce. By leveraging data and a marketplace approach to connect independent licensed professionals with facilities with open workforce needs, ShiftKey is playing a vital role in advancing empowered work, stability and solutions for professionals, facilities and the people they serve. With 10,000 healthcare facilities and hundreds of thousands of independent licensed professionals on the platform, ShiftKey is the market leader in strategic workforce solutions, driving a more sustainable, inclusive and profitable workforce economy for the future. For more information, visit

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