Social Media In Medical School And The Medical Field As A Whole

Social Media In Meded And Medical Industry

According to the Mayo Clinic’s Daniel Cabrera, M.D., “The moral and societal duty of an academic healthcare provider is to advance science, improve the care of his/her patients and share knowledge.” And based on the ever changing advancements in technology and the way people communicate in their everyday lives, one of the most efficient and productive ways for healthcare providers to meet their societal duty, is through the use of social media.

Whether it’s a Youtube account documenting a doctor’s recent surgeries, an in-depth blog or podcast on current events and controversies in the medical field, or a Facebook page used to connect and converse with patients, many practicing physicians and medical experts have already taken the initiative to promote medical education and exploration via the many different venues social media has to offer. And with the advent of the ‘Free Open Access Meducation’ (FOAM) movement, which uses social media to connect medical experts across the globe, as well as freely share resources and personal research, an official online community for medical experts has been made.

Thus, it is only natural that the effective use of social media as a practicing physician now be properly covered in medical students’ education. In 2014, the Mayo Clinic took the initiative by partnering with social media management platform Hootsuite to develop an online course to train medical students and professionals in the areas of online reputation management, recruitment, patient communication and more, in order to effectively use different social media platforms.

In support of these classes, the Mayo Clinic’s director of social and digital innovation, Lee Aase, stresses that for “physicians and other healthcare providers to meaningfully interact with audiences, they need to be competent in using these tools.”

Social media has also influenced the way that medical education is taught within the classroom, with the new “flipped” classroom model gradually being implemented into medical school courses. This teaching method does away with tradition lectures, and instead relies on students to use specially developed online sources to educate themselves on the material, and then integrate that into more participatory lessons during class time.

It’s important to note that this kind of digital content is different than a mere online version of the textbook. Learning via social media distinctly connects the learning to the content because social media allows the student to interact with the material, whether it be creating and publishing an educational youtube video or simply contributing input to a Reddit message board. The content is shared and developed by every user who accesses it, no matter when or where they are.

With medical knowledge expanding at such an expedient rate, and with human communication being driven more and more by the use of online venues, it should not only recommended that physicians be competent in the use of social media, it should arguably be mandatory. Social media, in terms of education, research and professional practice, is inevitably transforming the medical field. In the same way physicians have had to adapt to technological advancements that affect medical equipment and procedures, they must now take on the responsibility of learning and adapting to advancements in social media use as well.

Samantha Hendricks
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