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Teaching medical students to use social media at John Hopkins U

Dr. Meg ChisolmMargaret “Meg” Chisolm is a Twitter user, and an assistant professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. As a recent article in the Hopkins Gazette points out:

[Chisolm] “is one of a growing number of medical professionals who, despite the present-day climate of strict patient privacy regulations and oversight, see the benefits of using social media to supplement their work and interact with colleagues, patients and the general public.” She connects with others using her Twitter accounts @whole_patients in order to “demystify psychiatry and psychotherapy for patients and doctors,” and @psychpearls , “which is targeted to learners interested in ‘clinical pearls’ about psychiatry.”

She and a colleague, Tabor Flickinger, a clinical education fellow, are designing a curriculum to train students at the School of Medicine in the use, benefits and potential pitfalls of using social media in medicine. In December 2011 they received an Osler Center for Clinical Excellence small grant award to run a pilot study with medical students during their third year clerkship of 2012 – 2013.

The format of the pilot study will be a voluntary online addition to clinical activities during the eight-week Internal Medicine Clerkship. One group of students will participate in a blog where they can write about and discuss their clinical experiences. Another group will serve as a comparison cohort; they will be studied but will not participate in the blog (from the Hopkins Gazette article).

No doubt many forward-thinking medical institutions, such as the University of Utah, will be watching for the results of this study.

Are you using social media in your practice (medical, psychiatry, or whatever)? How helpful has it been? What have proven to be the pitfalls? Tell us about it!