Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Medical Students' and Residents' Use of Facebook

Okay, so I finally caved in and set up a Facebook account in June. To date, I have inched up to a mere 74 friends. One of my Facebook friends, a cousin in college, has 759 friends! That is a testament as to how social networking tools have made their way into the daily lives, the daily minutes, of how students keep in touch.

With the explosive popularity of Facebook use among students, it is no surprise that issues concerning the appropriateness of what students choose to disclose on their personal profiles and photos that they post are starting to arise as these students graduate and enter the professional world.

The authors of the article below are from the College of Medicine and the College of Education at the University of Florida. As students who use Facebook, and as educators who teach these students, this article is a must read as it touches upon the implications of professionalism and how it is affected by the online personas that people create using social networking tools.

Ferdig, RE, Dawson, K, Black EW, et al.
Medical students' and residents' use of online social networking tools: Implications for teaching professionalism in medical education.
First Monday, Vol 13, No.9, Sept 2008.

This study sought to determine if and how 501 medical students and 312 residents are using Facebook at a large university in the southeastern United States. Results reveal that medical students and residents are using Facebook and about two–thirds of users maintain public profiles. While there is variation in the types of information provide within profiles, many medical students seem unaware of or unconcerned with the possible ramifications of sharing personal information in publicly available online profiles even though such information could impact their professional lives. Thus, this study provides data based evidence that online tools such as social networking sites should become a part of the dialogue related to preparing future physicians to meet the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) professionalism competency.


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