Expanding the use of Twitter for medical education

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Expanding the use of Twitter for medical education

 

Citation: Med Educ Online 2016, 21: 33010 - http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/meo.v21.33010

Copyright: © 2016 Irene Moraitis and Miriam I. Zegeye. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and to remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially, provided the original work is properly cited and states its license.

Published: 24 August 2016

 

We have read Galiatsatos et al.’s recent article (1) about the use of Twitter and other social media with great interest, as they have the power to greatly enhance medical education. It is encouraging to see the large uptake of the Twitter page by the residents and the continued use of it.

Twitter, as a universal resource, allows the quick and easy dissemination of information worldwide. It has the capability to help create a global medical community where high-class institutions can share their resources freely with less advantaged medical communities.

We have already witnessed medical education attempt to keep up with the advances in the digital sector with the introduction of eLectures, ePortfolios and so on; however, the full potential of social media has yet to be tapped. This scope spans far wider than the residents Galiatsatos studied and could include undergraduate studies. Twitter could allow medical students to stay up to date with relevant advances regardless of which placement or hospital they are in. This is particularly relevant to the UK where students rotate through a number of different hospitals within the same medical school. Furthermore, the fact that Twitter posts are limited to a ‘bite-sized’ 140 characters can be used to make research more accessible and applicable to the students’ clinical experiences. The use of Twitter could be further expanded to include useful teaching aids such as mnemonics. This has already been used by a number of Instagram users with over 251,000 followers (@doctordconline), which shows great potential for other social media platforms.

With the vast majority of students having reported using social media (2), Twitter would enable the easy advertisement of educational events and research opportunities as well as being able to directly ask questions on a transparent platform for all who are following to see the response.

As with any technology, there are obstacles that need to be overcome. The most important one with regard to Twitter is confidentiality. For example, if a post refers to case-based teaching, patients may still be identifiable by their disease or demographics, especially in smaller hospitals. The lack of censorship may also pose a threat to the institution’s reputation. Both these issues have already been noted with Facebook (3).

There is, of course, scope to take the use of social media even further in the healthcare community. As public health and health promotion are currently trending, the power of Twitter and other social media can be harnessed by national departments of health to reach the population. Moreover, to prevent the aforementioned issues, a social media platform for sole use by healthcare professionals could be developed.

Irene Moraitis
Faulty of Medicine
Imperial College London
Sir Alexander Fleming Building
South Kensington Campus
London, SW7 2AZ
United Kingdom
Email: Irene.moraitis10@imperial.ac.uk

Miriam I. Zegeye
Faulty of Medicine
Imperial College London
London
United Kingdom

References

  1. Galiatsatos P, Porto-Carreiro F, Hayashi J, Zakaria S, Christmas C. The use of social media to supplement resident medical education – the SMART-ME initiative. Med Educ Online 2016; 21: 29332, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/meo.v21.29332 Publisher Full Text
  2. Avci K, Celikden SG, Eren S, Aydenizoz D. Assessment of medical students’ attitudes on social media use in medicine: a cross-sectional study. BMC Med Educ 2015; 15: 18. PubMed Abstract | PubMed Central Full Text | Publisher Full Text
  3. White J, Kirwan P, Lai K, Walton J, Ross S. ‘Have you seen what is on Facebook?’ The use of social networking software by healthcare professions students. BMJ Open 2013; 3: e003013. PubMed Abstract | PubMed Central Full Text | Publisher Full Text
About The Authors

Irene Moraitis
Imperial College London
United Kingdom

Faculty of Medicine 

Final Year Medical Student 

Miriam I. Zegeye
Imperial College London
United Kingdom

Faculty of Medicine

Final Year Medical Student

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