I have been in multiple discussions in various venues about social media in medical schools recently. It appears to me as if every conversation ends up focusing on professionalism (or more specifically, unprofessionalism and what students should NOT do). The conversation then turns to “a policy is necessary so that trainees/students understand what isn’t ok”. About a month ago, I wrote this blog here, which touched on this topic.
While I agree that a policy or a guideline (the IU School of Medicine calls it a guideline) is important, and professionalism should of course be mentioned, I always tend to notice almost no discussion of what good can come from social media in medical education.
Is it that people are scared? Is it that people are worried about doing something that will come back and haunt them? Can medical schools be sued over comments made by students or faculty in social media circles?
I am particularly proud of the IU School of Medicine’s social media guideline here (shout-out to my colleague Gabe Bosslet for his direction and leadership in crafting this document).
My personal opinion is that of course people need to be smart and not post patient information, or anything that might link with a direct patient, in a social media context. But we sure are missing what great potential is out there. What about disseminating helpful health information to patients? What about the opportunity to dispel rumors, false information, and “snake oil cures”? What about the potential for maintaining quality public health information (on vaccines, for example) for all to see or read?
Below are some interesting posts on the topic of Social Media policies, specifically with regard to health care. Please let me know your thoughts on this subject, and how we can leverage the good from social media with the concern over unprofessional online behavior.
A publication on Social Media policies in US medical schools