Dr. Dean Jenkins (@dean_jenkins) writes:
Medical education could benefit from new forms of communication between health professionals made possible through social media – a collection of technologies that use the Internet to connect people. These technologies will be familiar to many and include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. These social media create connections between individuals and form networks within which information is shared. In this short review I will outline some of the opportunities and challenges facing the use of social media and medical education. I will not focus on any particular form of medical education so the discussion includes undergraduate and postgraduate.
Although there have always been networks and communities of physicians it has not been on a scale and immediacy that is now possible with social media. In the past the size of communities was restricted by geography and slower modes of communication. This has broadened in recent decades. For example, the use of Twitter at conferences has increased and can be « successfully used by physicians … to engage in clinical discussions » even if the author is not present at the event . Scientists see social media as a critical form of communication , especially with the public, but also with colleagues and experts within and outside their disciplines. Some academics have called for the career recognition of the open, digital and networked exchange of information . They argue that publishing should not be seen as a restricted, academic activity within journals but as part of a more open discourse and discovery.
The adoption of social media technologies has been rapid. The telephone took 100 years to be used by 50% of UK households. Facebook has taken just 5 years to reach 50% of the UK population and the most rapidly adopting group is now those aged over 50 . However, social media can blur the distinction between professional and personal lives making professionalism and social media an uneasy mix . There have been many reports of inadvertent disclosure of confidential information and public displays of unprofessional behaviour which have led many to look in horror at what social media could do to the profession. Doctors associations  have published – and regulators are drafting  – guidance on the use of social media.
However, I’d argue that social media and other new technologies are here to stay and we should become familiar with them. How can they be used in medical education? How should they be used to increase our knowledge and the reach of our profession?
See on dean-jenkins.blogspot.co.uk