Communications and the medical student

The pandemic has brought home that communications are very important in health care. As students, you are now sources of information to the community. We hope these questions and answers are useful to you.

This page is also being used as a demo to show how someone can link to content within an accordion.
This link should take you to one of the accordions.

Informal guidance for students up here.


Here is what is says in the official UW policy about social media that applies to students as well as faculty and staff. You are responsible for knowing the latest version of this policy and all related rules and guidance:

The use of social media is prohibited while performing direct patient care activities, when use would compromise patient confidentiality, and in unit work areas, unless social media use in these areas has been previously approved by a supervisor.

Workforce members should limit their use of social media to rest or meal breaks, unless social media use has been previously approved by a supervisor for business purposes.

Workforce members are prohibited from posting anything to social media that could identify a UW Medicine patient unless specific to a work function and the patient or their legally authorized representative has provided appropriate written consent. This includes any posting that contains protected health information (PHI) or anything that if taken with collectively with others posts or other publically known information could identify a UW Medicine patient.

Most of this page is designed to provide guidance and offer advice to students. However, there is a very hard rule about taking images of patients: Don’t do it. Please don’t do it. Publishing an image of a patient breaks the law unless the patient has signed a very specific waiver of their privacy under HIPAA. If you think it’s important to take a picture of a patient, please contact the communications office. We can provide the waiver form and guidance.

HIPAA violations are punishable in court and with fines. Please don’t take images of patients, even if you think they’re not recognizable.

In addition, it’s generally not a good idea to take pictures of other students or faculty unless they have signed a specific waiver. If the other students are aware that you are posting to social media, that’s great. But once you publish that image, someone you may not know might use that image for any purpose they want to and with any accompanying information they provide in any communications platform online or in print. If another student complains about the sharing and use of their image, you could be held liable. You don’t want that. If you want to share images of other students in a teaching or clinical space, please ask us about privacy waiver forms. We are glad to help.


Sharing images of yourself in a UW setting is fine as long as no patients are in the image or video. If you include other students or staff or faculty, things get more complex.

(( Kim, are there resources for students that we can point to?))


You are always welcome to call the communications office. Sometimes reporters will call and tell you that they have a very urgent deadline. They will say they need to talk to you right away. They will often have urgent reasons for why you should speak to them right away. However – you have every right to prepare yourself for a conversation. Do not let yourself be rushed.

If you call Kim or Walter, we can speak with the reporter and help you schedule any discussion.

<h3 id=”tagdemo” class=”section-title”>This is also an experiment in linking within an accordion</h3>


It would be nice if we could type out two or three paragraphs and answer this question, but honestly, what happens next is going to depend on:

  • What you want to communicate
  • Who you want to reach with the communications
  • Where you might communicate your message

The best thing to do is contact Kim or Walter. We are happy to hear out your thoughts and offer advice.

(( Kim, I have the feeling you want students to show it to someone in advance. Correct? ))

((We could provide some sort of intake form, or just give them our names on Teams, or cells, or do lots of things here, what do you think?))

Kim  …


Walter Neary