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Advocacy Over Influence, Nurse Erica’s Story

“If only nurses realized the power we had,” – Nurse Erica

Although Nurse Erica, RN, BC (@the.nurse.erica) was named Nurse.org’s  2023 Nurse Influencer of the Year in their “Best Of” Nursing Awards by the nursing community who both nominated and voted for her, the nurse and co-host of the Nurses Uncorked podcast (@nursesuncorked) prefers to think of herself first as a nurse advocate and activist. 

“My passion is advocacy,” Nurse Erica says. “I want to change the nursing profession, as hokey as that sounds, and I do that by being honest about all that’s going on.”

Stark honesty and unfiltered truths about the nursing industry, especially behind the scenes, is exactly what Nurse Erica is known for—and why she has become one of the most trusted and popular nurse influencers around. She is known as the “Nurse Erica” which is how she prefers to be referred to on all platforms, including TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube.

The advocate shares stories, news, and ongoing coverage of everything from new and emerging legislation that will affect nurses, like federal staffing ratios and the Quality of Care Act, criminal prosecution, nurse culture, covering high-profile cases like RaDonda Vaught’s trial, and advocacy on preventing violence in the workplace as the co-creator of the Red and Black Ribbon campaign

Creating a Safe Space For Nurses 

@the.nurse.erica Methodist Dallas staff: see @Alicia Davis for ribbons. #nursesoftiktok #rn #lpn #cna #healthcareworker #silentprotest @Masshole McGuido #dallas #stopviolenceagainsthealthworkers #ribbonchallenge ♬ original sound – TheNurseErica

“I give nurses a safe space to talk about what’s going on [in] their workplaces,” Nurse Erica summarizes. That safe space on the Internet is changing lives and legislation, and that’s the type of influence Nurse.org is honored to recognize. Here’s more on Nurse Erica, how she got her start, her unflinching honesty about the challenges of being a high-profile practicing nurse, and what she hopes will be next in her career as a nurse influencer. 

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Nurse Erica admits that it was never her intent to become an influencer, nurse, or otherwise, and that she fell into the path “totally by accident.”

“I’m the least likely person to be an influencer,” she laughs. “It’s so not my comfort zone.” 

She explains that she first stumbled into influencing at the beginning of 2020 when her college-aged son and daughter were home and introduced her to TikTok. 

“I downloaded it for the sole reason of spying on my kids,” she says with a laugh. 

While her merits as a spy may be debatable, her reliability on the app is not, as her account quickly took off after posting a video about a pediatric amputation patient from a nurse management perspective. Her work quickly gained a lot of traction, and Nurse Erica rose in the influencer ranks because, as she describes it, “there wasn’t a lot of nursing leadership on socials who still work in nursing and talk about behind the curtain.” 

As her work gained more views and followers, Nurse Erica says she recognized “very early on” that her social media work was an opportunity to have a second career, and that is how she views it today. While she does very few financial partnerships, she does say that she devotes the majority of her time to advocacy, even more than her “day” job in a nurse leadership role. 

“I’d like to do PRN and do advocacy full-time but I am not quite there yet,” Nurse Erica says.

But she is growing every day, with 103,000 followers on Instagram and close to 528,000 on TikTok, Nurse Erica is a bona fida nurse influencer as well as an activist who does things like travel to nurse union strikes, consult with individual nurses about situations they are facing, and travel across the country for speaking engagements. She has built up trust with nurses around the world, and that trust is what enables her to do what she does: stand up for nurses’ rights. 

“I love being able to put a spotlight on corrupt healthcare organizations,” Nurse Erica describes. “I get so much satisfaction seeing nurses’ eyes light up when I teach them something about their rights that they didn’t know and how to fight back.”

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Influencing might be “in,” but Nurse Erica is as honest about the very real challenges of being an influencer as she is about being a nurse. She admits that while the vast majority of nurses who follow her are largely supportive, she does get “hate” from other nurse leaders and managers, as well as targeted harassment at times. 

“I’ve been fired as a nurse,” Nurse Erica states. “There’s a lot of shame in this, but most of the time it’s retaliation, so I’ve been on the receiving end of retaliation. I’ve paid the price.”

Part of that price, adds Nurse Erica, is letting go of the gift of anonymity, a sacrifice that influencers and advocates often have to make. She shares that she does live in fear sometimes and is no stranger to having threatening messages sent her way. Along with the personal fears that come with the role is the larger threat being a visible influencer has on her future career opportunities. 

“I’m keenly aware that I’ve put myself in a position where no one would want to hire me as a nurse, so if anything were to happen with my current job, who would hire Nurse Erica?” she says. “I do miss bedside nursing and I would love to take a travel assignment and that makes me so sad that no one would hire me anymore.”

Because of the work she does, Nurse Erica is meticulous about her research and uses extreme caution before sharing cases and information online. 

“I verify everything,” she explains. “I won’t move forward until I feel comfortable.”

Proud of Where She Stands

Despite the challenges, Nurse Erica tells Nurse.org that she is extremely proud to be in the position of working as a nurse advocate. She has celebrated personal wins as a nurse, like her four national board certifications, as well as wins she sees as collaborative for the nursing professional, like the Red and Black Ribbon campaign against violence towards healthcare workers, as well as the RaDonda Vaught case and legislation she has supported that went on to be signed into law. 

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For instance, Maine Medical Center had been trying to unionize for over 20 years and after Nurse Erica shared the story, the center finally went on to have a successful union election. The legislation that passed in Texas to make it a minimum third-degree felony to assault hospital personnel also happened after their campaign. 

“It’s hard to say if I’m instrumental in all of these things, but I’m proud I had some part in it,” she says. 

Nurse.org is also proud to have a part in recognizing nurses like Nurse Erica who are influencing the nursing profession as a whole to be better. To receive an award as the Best Nurse Influencer, she says, is “validation” that the work she does matters and is valued. 

“I don’t toot my own horn very often, so to receive an award, especially from an organization like Nurse.org, meant a lot,” Nurse Erica shares. “I’m very grateful.”

While you could say Nurse Erica has already accomplished more than many people will in an entire lifetime, this nurse influencer is just getting started. Along with the very lofty goal of simply “fixing the nursing profession,” Nurse Erica tells Nurse.org that in the years to come, she hopes to accomplish goals that include:

  • More work in advocating for healthcare workers to demand safe working conditions

  • To talk to more nursing students to teach survival skills

  • To see the Nurses Uncorked Podcast reach the top 10 

At the end of the day, Nurse Erica has influence in advocating for nurses because, despite the flaws and broken aspects of the healthcare system she is acutely aware of, she still believes in the power of nurses—and that’s why she continues to fight.

“Depending on the day, here’s what I firmly believe: we as nurses in the nursing profession, we have the power to change things if we can cohesively stick together,” says Nurse Erica. “The power is in the numbers. Without nurses, there is no healthcare. Without nurses, there is no reimbursement. Without nurses, everything comes to a screeching halt,” she notes, adding:

“If only nurses realized the power we had.”



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