Social Media and Surgery

surgeons

Surgeons not being the most social animals among doctors, I was surprised to see 7 editorials about surgery and social media. These seven editorials highlighted the use of social media and different settings for surgeons, from medical school all the way up to the American College of Surgeons.

The most factual contribution was about the implications of social media such as twitter, blogging and facebook on the next generation of physicians. In this editorial a recent study was cited. They found a difference in the use of social media between residents and medical students. 13% of residents and 64% of medical students at the University of Florida, Gainesville had Facebook profiles. Suggesting a 6 fold increase in the number of social media users in the next generation of physicians. I think this is an underestimation. The authors also state that from the profiles of these residents and medical students 70% contained photographs with alcohol of which 10% to 50% implied excessive drinking. Furthermore, 30% displayed inappropriate images of overt sexuality, foul language, and patient privacy violations.

As a result, residents and medical students are at a comparably high risk of having their profiles viewed by unintended persons thereby jeopardizing individual credibility as well as that of his or her institution.

More positive were the contribution of medical students and residents. Some uses of medical students of social media:

  • Communication among members of tutorial groups, the basis of the problem-based curriculum
  • YouTube video clips of physical exam maneuvers and diagnostic procedures
  • Using visual models found on YouTube for explanation of complex science concepts
  • Watching operation procedures on YouTube to prepare the operation the next day
  • Podcasts of live lectures so that they can access them out of campus, at the gym or during travel
  • Orienting towards specialties by following on facebook applicable professional organizations for their field of interest such as such as the American College of Surgeons, the American College of Physicians, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • The use of facebook to exchange experiences with residency programs
  • and so on and so on….

Residents were very interested in physician-only online social networks. this editorial collected an impressive amount of these networks such as sermo, medscape connect, tiromed, and doctorshangout.com. They also emphasized the social aspect of social networking sites especially since they lack sufficient time to keep up with other networks than their working network.

Social networking sites can serve as an invaluable tool for keeping in touch with friends and colleagues from past educational and work experiences and for medical trainees to share news and photos with geographically distant loved ones.

All in all an interesting number of editorials in Surgery of varying optimism and content.

ResearchBlogging.org
Tilt, A., Mermel, C., & Conrad, C. (2011). How surgical residents use social media Surgery, 150 (1), 5-6 DOI: 10.1016/j.surg.2011.05.022

Weinstein, A., Saadeh, P., & Warren, S. (2011). Social networking services: Implications for the next generation of physicians Surgery, 150 (1), 15-16 DOI: 10.1016/j.surg.2011.05.026

Wells, K. (2011). Social media in medical school education Surgery, 150 (1), 2-4 DOI: 10.1016/j.surg.2011.05.023