YouTube for Nurse Authors

YouTube for Nurse Authors

Jessica Nishikawa

Nurse Author & Editor, 2017, 27(3), 1


Access to scholarly information has traditionally been limited to journals and textbooks which are costly and limit dissemination potential, especially internationally and to those outside of academia. This has given birth to a growing open access movement, highlighting the need for free, high-quality, online information. YouTube, the video sharing service, might not be traditionally considered an open access resource, however it shares similar characteristics in its ability to encourage globalization of free information.

Social media and constant Internet connectivity have changed the way we communicate and interact personally and professionally. Today’s information consumers require online, up-to-date, accessible, and accurate information (Cartledge, Miller, & Phillips, 2013; Pearson et al., 2015). Many components of nursing education and practice have undergone significant changes in information technology in order to meet these demands. Professional journals have moved to web-based interfaces for desktop and mobile use, and many have an established social media presence.

YouTube continues to be one of the most frequently accessed sites on the Internet. As the largest searchable online video repository, YouTube is home to billions of user-generated videos covering nearly every subject imaginable. Its popularity creates a unique opportunity for nursing professionals to disseminate scholarly information to a global audience.

The content quality of information for patients, professionals, and students on YouTube is varied. Most studies support that fact that less than 50% of videos on YouTube provide accurate information (Azer, 2014; Beydilli et al., 2015; Camm, Sunderlan, & Camm, 2013; Delli, Livas, Vissink & Spijkervet, 2015; Rittberg, Dissanayake & Katz, 2015; Tanwar, Khattar, Sood, & Makkar, 2015). Content quality improves when videos are published by professionals (Delli et al., 2015; Tanwar et al., 2015). As nurse authors contribute scholarly information via YouTube, the quality of videos will (hopefully) increase and information consumers will have better access to more accurate information. This article explores the benefits and challenges of using YouTube as a dissemination platform and encourages nurse authors to consider its use.

Author Experience

In August 2012, working collaboratively, a graduate student posted six of my health assessment videos to YouTube. To date they have been viewed over 2.5 million times. Multiple international education centers have requested copyright permission to distribute to the videos to health professionals and students. This success prompted me to publish ten additional videos between October and November 2015. To date these videos have received approximately 200,000 views, originating in 144 countries. The largest viewer base, totaling nearly 75% of views, was made up of the United States (50%), United Kingdom (6%), Saudi Arabia (5%), Canada (5%), Australia (4.5%) and Egypt (4%).

Advantages to YouTube Publication

Audience. There are considerable advantages to using YouTube as a platform for dissemination. Arguably the largest is the enormous audience potential. Nurses, students, and patients are utilizing YouTube for professional and personal sources of information (Napgal, Karimianpour, Mukhija, Mohan, & Brateanu, 2015). As the largest searchable online video repository, YouTube is home to billions of user-generated videos covering nearly every subject imaginable (YouTube, 2017a). Over a billion users from across the world watch millions of hours of videos each day (YouTube, 2017b).

The popularity of YouTube creates a unique opportunity for nursing professionals to disseminate scholarly information to a global audience. This is evident in the YouTube activity surrounding the outbreak of Ebola virus in 2014 that affected large populations of people in West Africa and made a small, yet noticeable appearance in the US healthcare system. By December of that year, the 86 most popular YouTube videos on the topic of the Ebola virus had a combined 22 million views. Much of the information in those videos was misleading and incorrect (Napgal et al., 2015), and none of the videos were developed by nursing professionals. Nurses play a key role in educating the public during health crises. YouTube is a valuable tool and could help nurses reach hundreds of thousands of viewers.

Timely Publication. While peer reviewed journals seek to publish timely and accurate information, the process for researchers to collect data and analyze findings; compose a clean manuscript; submit for publication; and await peer review, revisions, and subsequent re-review takes time. Publication of textbooks takes even longer and information may be 3 to 5 years old before it is in print. Other dissemination platforms can greatly reduce the time to make the content available to an interested user. Once an author is familiar with YouTube, a publication can be produced and ready for dissemination within hours or days, rather than weeks and months. For example, each of the health assessment videos that I developed took approximately 15 hours to create and post.

The creative component of video editing, such as adding graphics and other special effects, can cause delays. However, researchers have found the quality of information in the video to be more important for viewers than sound or production quality (Napgal et al., 2015). Authors publishing to YouTube should take care in the preparation of the information to ensure accuracy, but do not need to labor over the video aesthetics.

Access. Another compelling reason for nursing professionals to publish scholarly products on YouTube is to contribute to the repository of free, ubiquitous educational information. Here service and scholarship meet to create a meaningful and rewarding experience. With the rising cost of health education and textbooks, creating a library of high quality, free material, accessible to any user with connectivity, benefits students, patients, and the general population of information-seekers.

Financial. Authors who require monetary incentive to publish can enable YouTube’s monetization feature, which allows advertisements to appear before and during the video. Advertisements played on popular videos can result in a significant payout for the rights holder (YouTube, 2017a). However, the type of videos uploaded by nurse authors, educators, and researchers are not likely to generate the rapid views needed to result in substantial compensation. Monetization of scholarly work on YouTube has also received criticism for the lack of control over the advertisements played (Lemon, 2014).

Promotion. In many US academic centers, the definition of scholarship is being re-examined. Publications in peer reviewed journals are still considered the gold standard; however well-developed YouTube publications should be included on the professional CV and can fulfill institutional requirements for scholarship, service, and teaching. One could reasonably argue that the transfer of knowledge is greater with YouTube publications than with a peer reviewed article.

At this time, there is not a professional standard on how to include YouTube publications on a CV. My recommendation is to reference them with other scholarly presentations. According to the publication manual of the American Psychology Association (2009), YouTube video citations should be in the following format: Author last name, first initial, middle initial [username]. (Year, month date). Title of video. [Video File]. Retrieved from URL. When including a reference in a CV, maintain the same format. For example:

Nishikawa, J. (2015, October 07). Are nurse practitioners doctors? Understanding the practice doctorate in nursing. [Video File]. Retrieved from

Disadvantages to YouTube Publication

Arduous. Planning, recording, editing, and publishing a video to YouTube may seem arduous, even for technologically-competent nursing professionals. Initiating the first step is the largest barrier to producing YouTube publications. Once overcome, creating a channel and uploading a video is not as difficult as you might think. There are, in fact, hundreds of YouTube videos to assist you to get started.

Potential Copyright Infringement. Authors should be cognizant of licensing and copyright ownership if using content, images, or background audio that is not personally owned. It is the author’s responsibility to ensure the information is retrieved from Creative Commons licensing or Public Domain. This is a more critical concern when the author has enabled the monetization feature and has the potential for capitalizing on the property of others.

Quality Concerns. Unfortunately, because of the user-generated nature of YouTube, it is not regulated for accuracy and correctness. The YouTube video ranking determining the order in which the videos are displayed is based on a complicated algorithm of views, likes, comments, and minutes watched. These rankings have not been shown to correlate to video quality (Camm et al., 2013). Clinically-useful videos can be buried amongst a number of misleading and inaccurate ones. Although publishing to YouTube is a great first step, sharing the link across other social media platforms and email allows intended viewers to find the publication.


YouTube offers a unique and effective platform to disseminate information. However, the majority of the videos currently available are lacking in content quality (Azer, 2014; Beydilli et al., 2015; Camm et al., 2013; Delli et al., 2015; Rittberg et al., 2015; Tanwar et al., 2015). The responsibility to publish quality, accurate information is the obligation of the professional making the video. Equitable time, effort, and care should be used in making and editing YouTube publications as would be necessary for publishing an article for print.

Students, colleagues, and patients are growing increasingly savvy with Internet and web interfaces. As user characteristics change, so should the way information is delivered. To share, inspire, and educate, authors must be adaptive to change and open to different platforms for dissemination. YouTube is a phenomenon that is not going away. Improving the quality of the scholarly material on YouTube starts with purposeful publications from nursing professionals.


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About the Author

Jessica Nishikawa, DNP, NP-C in an Associate Professor at Hawaii Pacific University College of Health and Society and a Nurse Practitioner at Straub Clinic and Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii. Click here to follow her YouTube channel.

NAE 2017 27 3 1 Nishikawa

Copyright 2017: The Author. May not be reproduced without permission.
Journal Complication Copyright 2017: John Wiley and Son Ltd.