5 pieces of social media advice for medical students

Angela Showell
Angela Showell

In this guest commentary, Angela Showell, social media and public affairs manager at Thomas Jefferson University and former associate director of electronic communications at Temple University, discusses some best practice measures for medical students’ social media use.

1. Professionally: Familiarize yourself with HIPAA, even before you start seeing patients. Even though HIPAA doesn’t officially cover much on social media, there's definitely still implications there.

2. Personally: You’re not an undergrad anymore. People who go to medical school are serious about their studies – for the most part, I would assume – but, the days of posting your nights out might be over. You might want to think about making your account completely private, if that’s your only purpose. But I would advise not to do that. Use your account for a mix of personal and professional because it will start to allow you to connect with your future colleagues and your classmates and even your medical school.

3. Know your school: Students should use their best judgement and make sure they’re familiar with their university’s code of conduct. Some speak directly to social media and some don’t. Recently, there was a group of 10 students from Harvard who had their admissions revoked for inappropriate use of social media. [The internet] is the Wild West, but we have definitely come a long way in the past 10 to 15 years.
The most important thing – not just for medical students, but for students in general – is getting a good feel for what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate.

4. Twitter: Students should consider researching the hashtags fellow students are using to talk about specific areas that they want to join a conversation so that they can start finding out who is talking about what and maybe look into different Twitter chats.

5. Facebook or LinkedIn: Students can find the appropriate group to join where other people are having conversations that might interest that student. Then, the student might find that they can connect on one particular platform and then find each other on the other social media platforms.

For more information: Angela Showell can be reached at angela.showell@jefferson.edu or on Twitter @angelashowell.

Angela Showell
Angela Showell

In this guest commentary, Angela Showell, social media and public affairs manager at Thomas Jefferson University and former associate director of electronic communications at Temple University, discusses some best practice measures for medical students’ social media use.

1. Professionally: Familiarize yourself with HIPAA, even before you start seeing patients. Even though HIPAA doesn’t officially cover much on social media, there's definitely still implications there.

2. Personally: You’re not an undergrad anymore. People who go to medical school are serious about their studies – for the most part, I would assume – but, the days of posting your nights out might be over. You might want to think about making your account completely private, if that’s your only purpose. But I would advise not to do that. Use your account for a mix of personal and professional because it will start to allow you to connect with your future colleagues and your classmates and even your medical school.

3. Know your school: Students should use their best judgement and make sure they’re familiar with their university’s code of conduct. Some speak directly to social media and some don’t. Recently, there was a group of 10 students from Harvard who had their admissions revoked for inappropriate use of social media. [The internet] is the Wild West, but we have definitely come a long way in the past 10 to 15 years.
The most important thing – not just for medical students, but for students in general – is getting a good feel for what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate.

4. Twitter: Students should consider researching the hashtags fellow students are using to talk about specific areas that they want to join a conversation so that they can start finding out who is talking about what and maybe look into different Twitter chats.

5. Facebook or LinkedIn: Students can find the appropriate group to join where other people are having conversations that might interest that student. Then, the student might find that they can connect on one particular platform and then find each other on the other social media platforms.

For more information: Angela Showell can be reached at angela.showell@jefferson.edu or on Twitter @angelashowell.