Maximizing Your Academic Medicine Social Media Impact

By Kristina Dzara, Ph.D., M.M.Sc.
August 17, 2017

[The third post in a three-part series exploring the use of social media by medical professionals seeking greater academic impact.]

Remember, once you make the decision to embrace social media, move forward not backwards!

Although Twitter is the social media of choice for academic medicine,1,2 more and more individuals and organizations working in healthcare have Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram accounts. Although lesser used, newer social media platforms specifically related to academic medicine – for example, Doximity and Medshr – are emerging.3,4

In my previous posts, I wrote about embracing social media in academic medicine, and social media’s educational purpose. Here, I offer some ways that those of us working in academic medicine can maximize our social media impact.

The three sites I see used most often in academic medicine are Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Twitter allows users to interact using ‘tweets’—brief posts restricted to 140 characters—as a way to share information with others. Users register a handle—for example, mine is @KristinaDzara—which allows others to follow them. Generally speaking, the more followers you have, the more impact your tweets can have on Twitter, in the form of likes, retweets, and overall impressions. Unless you have a private account, any other Twitter user can follow and interact with you.

Facebook allows users to ‘friend’ or ‘follow’ other individuals or organizations. Facebook users are able to control who follows them by accepting or declining friend requests. Although Facebook is more often thought of as a way to connect with family and friends, it can also be effective for professional networking. Many organizations have Facebook accounts and share information about upcoming conferences, events, and opportunities. More recently, Facebook Live has been utilized as a way to broadcast from live academic roundtables and events.

Consider LinkedIn your digital rolodex for professional networking. In many ways an online curriculum vitae, on LinkedIn you can clearly indicate your educational and employment history, as well as publications, presentations, and certifications. Like Facebook, you can request to connect with others and have the power to accept or decline connections. Some prefer to connect only with those they know in real life, while others utilize it as a way to connect with those outside their close professional network. LinkedIn also allows users to post updates—for example, new publications or blog posts—which may be of interest to connections. Another feature is groups, which allows professionals in the same field to make contacts, post and view jobs, and share information.

Regardless of platform, there are a few general principles which can help you maximize your social media impact:

1. Tell a clear and consistent story about who you are and what you do.

Make sure your social media profiles use the same high-quality professional headshot across all platforms. Keep your social media bios up to date, especially if you have had any recent transitions, promotions, or new duties. It is important that if someone views more than one of your social media profiles, the information is similar across platforms.

2. Follow and be followed.

Growing your professional social media networks requires cultivation! Start by connecting with colleagues you already know – they are likely to accept your request and follow you back. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn all recommend people to connect with, which is a great place to start. Scroll your social media newsfeeds and look for posts of interest, see who posted them, and consider following them. However, never feel obligated to follow or engage with another user for any reason. For the most part, I reserve LinkedIn as a way to connect with those I have met or worked with. However, I am more flexible with those I follow on Twitter, provided they have some connection to academic medicine, healthcare, or my discipline, medical education.

3. Share what you are doing.
There is a small part of social media that feels like a bit of self-promotion. Although this may feel boastful, offering professional updates may help you connect with others who have shared interests. You may find that this transparency sparks new conversations about scholarly collaboration or mentorship! When sharing articles or resources, include your opinion or a one liner about what you learned (use a URL shortener like goo.gl or bit.ly to keep the link brief).

4. Use social media to your benefit.
One of my favorite purposes for social media is to follow broad trends in academic medicine. Twitter is exceptionally useful here, as hashtags are a way to quickly identify and find content of interest. Identify a few hashtags based on your interests, subspecialty, or conferences you attend. Some of my favorites include Medical Education (#MedEd), Free and Open Access to Medical Education (#FOAMed), and Healthcare Leadership (#HCLDR). #AcMed (Academic Medicine) also seems to be gaining some traction. Identify a few journals and professional organizations that align with your interests and check their posts. Within minutes you’ll be updated about new articles, conferences, and topics of interest.

5. Be a social media leader!
Utilize social media when at national, regional, and local academic events. This is a quick and easy way to be recognized by both colleagues and experts. When posting, tag an organization, event, or individual by including them in your post to increase your visibility. Provided it is acceptable to the conference and/or speaker, contribute to the conversation by tweeting or retweeting take-home points from the session or links to articles discussed. This can be a powerful networking tool, and you will be recognized by others for it. Don’t forget to have a little fun by posting a photo with colleagues you know or new followers you meet in person. By actively posting to social media during academic events, you will be viewed as someone who is not only approachable, but also savvy to social media.

Remember, once you make the decision to embrace social media, move forward not backwards! Don’t be afraid to engage with others and share the good things you, your colleagues, and your organization are doing. Your social media engagement may lead to opportunities for scholarly collaboration and professional growth – it certainly has for me! Social media has a strong foothold in our community of practice, a trend which shows no sign of slowing anytime soon.


For the latest information on trends in medicine and continuing medical education, follow HMS Global Academy on Twitter and LinkedIn.

For an example of how one doctor uses Twitter to impact his practice, HMS Global Academy recommends the Ted Talk: Twitter Has Made Me a Better Doctor.


References:

  1. Gallo T. Twitter is Trending in Academic Medicine. 2017. https://goo.gl/grJz1w.
  2. Choo EK, Ranney ML, Chan TM, et al. Twitter as a Tool for Communication and Knowledge Exchange in Academic Medicine: A Guide for Skeptics and Novices. Med Teach. 2015; 37(5):411-416.
  3. Doximity. 2017. https://www.doximity.com/.
  4. MedShr. 2017. https://en.medshr.net/.

Kristina Dzara_100x125Kristina Dzara, Ph.D., M.M.Sc. (@KristinaDzara) is a medical educator and researcher with 5+ years of experience in academic medicine. She is a recent graduate of the Harvard Medical School Master’s in Medical Education program and serves as Harvard Macy Institute’s Social Media Strategist. Her areas of professional interest include evaluation and assessment, faculty development, and social media in medical education.

*OPINIONS EXPRESSED BY OUR GUEST AUTHORS ARE VALUABLE TO US AT LEAN FORWARD, BUT DO NOT REPRESENT OFFICIAL POSITIONS OR STATEMENTS FROM HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL.

An Education Purpose for Social Media in Medicine

[The second in a three-part series exploring the use of social media by medical professionals seeking greater academic impact.]

By Kristina Dzara, Ph.D., M.M.Sc.
August 3, 2017

“Importantly, the choice to use social media must be made purposefully.”

As the number of millennials in medical school, residency and fellowship programs, and in faculty and leadership grows, the use of social media will become more common as a way to reach and engage with learners. When effectively designed, social media does have an educational purpose, offering an opportunity to engage our millennial learners and tap into their technological savvy. As educators, we would be remiss not to utilize various social media platforms to further engage with our learners and provide another context for them to transfer and deepen their learning.

Importantly, the choice to use social media must be made purposefully. When optimized, social media aligns with principles of both cognitive science and adult learning theory [Figure 1]. Adult learners desire relevant, timely, and useful information and learn better when they can positively transfer knowledge, skills, and understanding from one context to another.1,2 An example could include residents participating in a series of online journal clubs and then developing and cultivating a residency-program Twitter account to communicate with peers. Additionally, reflection upon educational experiences can deepen learning. Reflection could be encouraged by asking learners to anonymously post about a recent educational experience on a backchannel chat platform, such as Today’s Meet,3 and then comment on another learner’s post. Notably, both of these educational activities would allow the teacher to assess the learner at the ‘does’ level, which is increasingly more important in the age of competency-based medical education.

Figure 1.

Infographic depiciting learning theory and cognitive science merging with social media.

However, it is essential that educators also consider the potential unintended consequences of social media when used to supplement or replace a more traditional curriculum.4,5 Learners must maintain their professionalism online and follow organizational guidelines and HIPAA standards. There is also concern that social media and online resources are of inconsistent quality. Scholars are now investigating how we might best determine the quality of Free Open Access Medical Education (#FOAMed) resources including blogs, websites, and podcasts.6,7

In my last post, I considered why we should embrace social media in academic medicine. In addition to the many professional benefits, social media has numerous educational implications. Below, I offer three ways social media can be applied to medical education:

  1. Tweet chats and online journal clubs:
    Twitter has become popular in academic medicine, and in some cases, may offer advantages compared to more traditional educational activities.8,9 Both tweet chats and online journal clubs can be delivered synchronously (occurring at the same time as a scheduled learning activity) or asynchronously (not occurring at the same time) and offer learners the opportunity to engage in scholarly debate and reflection online. The flipped classroom—where content is introduced prior to the class session and class time is for knowledge assimilation—is an example of how tweet chats and journal clubs might be utilized as part of a broader curriculum.10 Having taken place before an in-person class session, either would situate the learner in the day’s problem space.10
  2. Podcasts:
    Podcasts allow for streamlined content related to topics interesting to learners in various fields, including medical education. One of my personal favorites is the scholarly KeyLIME Podcast (#KeyLIMEPodcast) which offers “…the main points of a medical education article in just 20 minutes.”11 This is a prime example of leveraging technology and social media to support either self-directed or instructor-led learning. New information delivered to learners in this format has the potential to expand existing knowledge bases and encourage critical thinking.
  3. Blogs:
    Writing for an academic or organizational blog can be used to explore topics of interest or reflect on educational and clinical experiences.12 Writing a blog post may be a helpful exercise for trainees with limited writing and research experience. Some journals—such as Health Affairs and BMJ—have blogs and encourage guest authorship. Moreover, writing for a blog offers learners an opportunity to engage in online educational scholarship, gain academic confidence, and grow their CV’s.

[Read part one of this series: Embracing Social Media in Academic Medicine]


Harvard Medical School Global Academy has blogging opportunities
available for credentialed health professionals.

Learn more about submitting a blog post to Lean Forward  or Trends in Medicine.


Kristina Dzara_100x125Kristina Dzara, Ph.D., M.M.Sc. (@KristinaDzara) is a medical educator and researcher with 5+ years of experience in academic medicine. She is a recent graduate of the Harvard Medical School Master’s in Medical Education program and serves as Harvard Macy Institute’s Social Media Strategist. Her areas of professional interest include evaluation and assessment, faculty development, and social media in medical education.

References:

  1. Weidman J, Baker K. The Cognitive Science of Learning: Concepts and Strategies for the Educator and Learner. Anesth Analg. 2015; 121(6):1586-1599.
  2. Knowles MS, Holton III EF, Swanson RA. The adult learner: The definitive classic in adult education and human resource development. 8 ed: Routledge; 2015.
  3. TodaysMeet LLC. What is Today’s Meet? 2017. https://todaysmeet.com/about/backchannel.
  4. Pereira I, Cunningham AM, Moreau K, Sherbino J, Jalali A. Thou shalt not tweet unprofessionally: an appreciative inquiry into the professional use of social media. Postgrad Med J. 2015; 91(1080):561-564.
  5. Hors-Fraile S, Atique S, Mayer MA, Denecke K, Merolli M, Househ M. The Unintended Consequences of Social Media in Healthcare: New Problems and New Solutions. JMIA Yearb Med Inform. 2016; (1):47-52.
  6. Thoma B, Chan TM, Paterson QS, Milne WK, Sanders JL, Lin M. Emergency Medicine and Critical Care Blogs and Podcasts: Establishing an International Consensus on Quality. Ann Emerg Med. 2015; 66(4):396-402 e394.
  7. Lin M, Joshi N, Grock A, et al. Approved Instructional Resources Series: A National Initiative to Identify Quality Emergency Medicine Blog and Podcast Content for Resident Education. J Grad Med Educ. 2016; 8(2):219-225.
  8. Mehta N, Flickinger T. The times they are a-changin’: academia, social media and the JGIM Twitter Journal Club. J Gen Intern Med. 2014; 29(10):1317-1318.
  9. Forgie SE, Duff JP, Ross S. Twelve tips for using Twitter as a learning tool in medical education. Med Teach. 2013; 35(1):8-14.
  10. Hillman T, Sherbino J. Social media in medical education: a new pedagogical paradigm? Postgrad Med J. 2015; 91(1080):544-545.
  11. Frank JR, Snell L, Sherbino J. KeyLIME – Key Literature in Medical Education. 2017. http://www.royalcollege.ca/rcsite/canmeds/keylime-podcasts-e.
  12. Khadpe J, Joshi N. How to Utilize Blogs for Residency Education. J Grad Med Educ. 2016; 8(4):605-606.

*OPINIONS EXPRESSED BY OUR GUEST AUTHORS ARE VALUABLE TO US AT LEAN FORWARD, BUT DO NOT REPRESENT OFFICIAL POSITIONS OR STATEMENTS FROM HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Embracing Social Media in Academic Medicine

[The first in a three-part series exploring the use of social media by medical professionals seeking greater academic impact.]

By Kristina Dzara, Ph.D., M.M.Sc.
July 12, 2017

The choice to engage with—or even embrace—social media is yours. Those who don’t may find that in the near future that it will be a challenge to share information, grow professional networks, and stay on top of relevant literature.

Sample Altmetrics Score Depiction
Sample Altmetrics score

Academic medicine is harnessing the power of social media for networking, professional development, education, and dissemination of information.1 An ever-growing cadre of individuals and organizations in healthcare have Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts, e-newsletters, podcasts and blogs.1-3 In fact, Twitter is the social media of choice for academic medicine.3,4 Although there is debate about professionalism and social media—as well as a concern that we spend too much time using social media without concrete evidence of educational and academic worth—social media has a strong foothold in our community of practice.3,5-7

The journal article remains the gold standard for dissemination of scholarly work. Yet, the publication process continues to be disrupted by new models of publication—prime examples are open access e-journals such as MedEdPortal and MedEdWorld. These advances are symbiotic with social media, especially Twitter. A number of journals have started including author Twitter handles in their publications and encourage tweets about new articles. Several offer a link providing free access to a limited number of readers, to be used for social media dissemination.

Blogs are multipurpose and can allow for the rapid spread of information.2 Blogs are colloquially written, and authors can write without the time and resources required to construct a full-length research article. Blogging can also help authors explore areas of early professional interest to increase familiarity with the topic. Certainly, the content and quality of blogs vary, but studies are being conducted to offer objective, scientific evidence of quality.8 Moreover, some journals, such as Health Affairs and the British Medical Journal, have blogs and encourage participation.

Although traditional journal-based citation metrics such as the impact factor and h-index  remain the standard, researchers are embracing new alternative metrics including usage (views, downloads, clicks), mentions (blog, media coverage), citations (Scopus, Web of Science, Pubmed), and number of tweets and Facebook likes for their own articles to supplement journal impact factors.4,9,10 These and other alternatives, such as the Altmetric Attention Score, are becoming more commonly used in academic medicine.4,9,10 Altmetrics are social-media based, have both a numeric score and a visual depiction of reach, and can objectively measure the impact of articles, webinars, educational videos, and blogs in real time.4,9,10 Although there is some concern that Altmetric scores can be gamed or manipulated, overall they can be utilized as an additional measure which can be triangulated with traditional metrics to gain a more comprehensive portrait of impact.4,5,9,10

The choice to engage with—or even embrace—social media is yours. Those who don’t may find that in the near future that it will be a challenge to share information, grow professional networks, and stay on top of relevant literature. We know that our millennial learners and colleagues have embraced social media, and that the technology which allows us to engage worldwide is expanding by the day. If information truly is power, social media offers us more than we could have ever previously imagined.


Already using Twitter? Be sure to follow HMS Global Academy @AcademyHMS.


References:

  1. Chisolm MS. Social Media in Medicine: The Volume that Twitter Built. Int Rev Psychiatry. 2015; 27(2):83-84.
  2. Khadpe J, Joshi N. How to Utilize Blogs for Residency Education. Journal of Graduate Medical Education. 2016; 8(4):605-606.
  3. Gallo T. Twitter is Trending in Academic Medicine. 2017. https://goo.gl/grJz1w.
  4. Chisholm MS. Altmetrics for Medical Educators. Acad Psychiatry. 2016.
  5. Wise J. Promoting Research on Social Media Has Little Impact. BMJ. 2014; 349:g7016.
  6. Choo EK, Ranney ML, Chan TM, et al. Twitter as a Tool for Communication and Knowledge Exchange in Academic Medicine: A Guide for Skeptics and Novices. Med Teach. 2015; 37(5):411-416.
  7. Kesselheim JC, Batra M, Belmonte F, Boland KA, McGregor RS. New Professionalism Challenge in Medical Training: An Exploration of Social Networking. J Grad Med Educ. 2014; 6(1):100-105.
  8. Chan T, Trueger NS, Roland D, Thoma B. Evidence-based Medicine in the Era of Social Media: Scholarly Engagement Through Participation and Online Interaction. Cjem. 2017:1-6.
  9. Handel MJ. Article-level Metrics-It’s Not Just About Citations. J Exp Biol. 2014; 217(Pt 24):4271-4272.
  10. Cress PE. Using Altmetrics and Social Media to Supplement Impact Factor: Maximizing Your Article’s Academic and Societal Impact. Aesthet Surg J. 2014; 34(7):1123-1126.

Kristina Dzara_100x125Kristina Dzara, Ph.D., M.M.Sc. (@KristinaDzara) is a medical educator and researcher with 5+ years of experience in academic medicine. A recent graduate of the Harvard Medical School Master’s in Medical Education program and a Harvard Macy scholar, Kristina’s areas of professional interest include evaluation and assessment, faculty development, and social media in medical education.

*OPINIONS EXPRESSED BY OUR GUEST AUTHORS ARE VALUABLE TO US AT LEAN FORWARD, BUT DO NOT REPRESENT OFFICIAL POSITIONS OR STATEMENTS FROM HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL.