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10 tips: Social Media Highway Code for doctors

(…) « The guide authors remind us that for younger doctors, the use of social media is already the norm. For example, a 2011 survey found that 100% of medical students had Facebook accounts.

These kids have likely been uploading their drunken party photos to Facebook and Tweeting their Starbucks orders long before they got accepted into med school.

Speaking of med school, nearly every accredited medical school now maintains its own Facebook profile too (Kind et al, 2010). But of those, only 13 of 128 med schools surveyed by Kind reported writing any social media policies to support its usage.

Stony Brook University in Long Island is one school that did announce last summer that it was developing a revised social media ethics policy after a medical student there posted a photo on Facebook of a classmate posing with a thumbs up next to a dead body.

For many young people like this, there may emerge some surprises about just what’s appropriate or inappropriate on social media.

So here’s one basic tip for the clueless: don’t post thumbs-up shots of people posing with dead bodies.

Other social media pitfalls for med students and doctors alike might include:

  • loss of personal privacy
  • potential breaches of confidentiality
  • online behaviour that might be perceived as unprofessional, offensive, or inappropriate by others
  • risks of posts being reported by the media or sent to employers


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