How Social Media Shapes Medical Education

Like most people, healthcare professionals use mainstream social media networks to connect with friends and family. But about 1/3 of them also join social networks focused exclusively on healthcare. Within these communities, providers find medical advice and best-practices, job openings and career tips, research and product information, as well as the opportunity to securely communicate with peers. Patient-focused networks, often built around a particular condition or disease, give individuals and their families supportive communities where they receive comfort, insights, and potential leads on new treatments. Medical Students may benefit from Social Media guidance….here’s a deeper look – By: Austin Chain, MD. 


While social media has directly impacted public health by serving as a tool to inform and bring together the general public, further indirect public health benefits of social media may lie in applications such as medical education.

As social media practices continue to be adopted by upcoming generations, providers in training are also increasingly familiar with this medium as a way of receiving and disseminating information. Purdue University has harnessed this method of teaching using an application named “Hotseat,” which allows both students and instructors to take turns at being “in the hotseat.” Students and teachers engage across tweets and SMS texts, as seen in the following video:



Increasingly, social media practices such as tweeting and blogging are become more encouraged in medical schools as part of a general movement to encourage students to write and reflect – the intention being to create more introspective, well-rounded, thoughtful doctors. In fact, more blogging was shown to correlate with better grades, though this might not necessarily mean better doctoring (Better bedside manner? Better fund of knowledge?).

One fourth year humanities course at Penn State College of Medicine sought to capitalize on social media as a learning tool. Twitter was used to introduce discussion topics and students working on research projects could easily communicate and obtain real-time feedback from their instructors. Instructor feedback highlighted how the 140-character limit encouraged brevity and how by infiltrating pop culture, there was noticeably heightened interest and participation. In addition, YouTube was used to supplement teaching materials. Skype was used to conduct conference call with experts.

Perhaps time will tell whether the implementation of social media in medical education will create better doctors. What is almost certain is that medical education as a field is highly dynamic and highly variable depending on instructor and material taught. As teaching methods modernize, social media will inevitably find its way into classrooms and shape how doctors are trained in the foreseeable future.

Dr. Austin Chaing is a Fellow of Gastroenterology at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA. He blogs regularly  at DailydoseMD and also at 



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Dr. Danielle Krol, a native of the Philadelphia area, spent the majority of her early life growing up in New Jersey. With over 15 years’ experience in Dance and Theatrical Arts, Dr. Krol was pursuing a career as an actress until her mother was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. For the 3 years that followed, Dr. Krol placed her life on hold and took the responsibility of Caretaker for her terminally ill mother. Her passion for medicine came about during her mother’s illness, and her determination to become a doctor came about after her passing in 2002.