Social media in healthcare education, inclusion or just distraction?

Social media is pervasive, even in healthcare. As an early adopter and despite the many challenges social media presents,  I witnessed how social media went from “side” to  “mainstream” media as it integrates into our daily lives.

My struggle though is not about social media integration or the technical skills needed to do so. What preoccupies my time on social media  is always about enhancing my learning the same way we took advantage of the internet coming of age. To facilitate reflective thinking rather than just information, knowledge more than opinion and in healthcare, clinical and patient skills rather than textbook regurgitations.

In #HealthXPh, we’ve discussed why social media is of value to healthcare. We’ve tackled how social media is used as a tool to enhance education and build interactivity to our traditional learning styles. We’ve shown social media’s potential in areas  collaborative learning using user generated materials while creating meaningful engagements in the healthcare sector.

In spite of these potential. there are still stinging questions to the value social media in healthcare particularly in educating would be healthcare professionals and stakeholders. Would incorporating social media in healthcare education really improve the knowledge, attitudes, values and skills, of future healthcare professionals?

There were studies abroad that tries to understand the challenges and opportunities of  incorporating healthcare social media in the medical curriculum. But the “infancy” of social media and the lack of rigorous controlled studies eludes a clear answer as of this moment. The answer to these questions ( if ever it could be answered) may be found in the next generation of healthcare professionals.

Notwithstanding these issues, healthcare institutions abroad began incorporating healthcare social media in their learning curriculum. In the Philippines, social media healthcare is not in any medical or healthcare curriculum. Why? Why are current healthcare educators or students taking social media seriously?

When asked, most nursing and medical students would answer, “I have no time for such”.  If it’s not included in the curriculum we’re not going to spend time learning it. Surely if our medical educators didn’t include it in our curriculum, they probably didn’t find any value for it in our education” .

I’m not an expert in healthcare education, but I do understand the problems besetting an institution in training future healthcare professionals. Identifying what’s important to the KAVS learning of healthcare students is difficult enough, incorporating a complex, learning resource such as social media doesn’t make it easier, at least to most healthcare educators that I know. Hence, while most healthcare educators nowadays have social media presence, only a few have formally incorporated it in their learner’s toolbox to enhance medical education.

I have a balance of views regarding inclusion of social media in the healthcare curriculum. I doubt this generation of educators and students will be able to fully understand the value of social media to healthcare education. Maybe the next generation will.  But, if we don’t bring the discussion now, we may never find out in the future generation of healthcare professionals.

Join us this Saturday August 8, 2015 9PM as we discuss the value of healthcare social media in medical education. Is it a distinction or just a distraction?

  • T1: Should healthcare social media be included in medical/healthcare curriculum? Why or why not?
  • T2: What are the challenges and opportunities in incorporating social media in our healthcare curriculum?
  • T3. How do you measure the impact of incorporating social media into the healthcare professional’s education?

As a closing thought (CT) please give an area in the education of future healthcare professionals, where social media has the most / least impact.


McGowan BS, Wasko M, Vartabedian BS, Miller RS, Freiherr DD, Abdolrasulnia M
Understanding the Factors That Influence the Adoption and Meaningful Use of Social Media by Physicians to Share Medical Information
J Med Internet Res 2012;14(5):e117
DOI: 10.2196/jmir.2138
PMID: 23006336
PMCID: PMC3510763

Kind T, Genrich G, Sodhi A, Chretien KC. Social media policies at US medical schools. Medical Education Online. 2010;15:10.3402/meo.v15i0.5324. doi:10.3402/meo.v15i0.5324.