6 top tips for using social media smartly
There’s more to social media than selfies and study breaks—smart use can enhance your learning and position you as an expert to patients. Follow these tips from physicians and medical students in the field to make sure you’re making the most of your social media use as a medical student.
- Stay on top of your field. Social media is great for being aware of the latest news, literature and ideas.
- Establish a positive reputation online. Members of the medical profession who don’t invest in social media risk being defined by rating sites.
- Be a responsible disseminator of information. Your patients will find you and follow you, so it’s crucial that you share accurate health information. Be a curator of medical and drug information.
- Don’t give medical advice via social media. The 140 characters available for a tweet are not enough to give accurate or in-depth advice to patients. Something you write could cause significant harm—just avoid it.
- Use social media as a study tool and support community. Tweet challenging questions to fellow students, help clarify concepts for others and get encouragement from your peers. You can even search for exam-specific hashtags—such as #USMLE—to zero in on what you need.
- Trust your instincts when grappling with whether or not to post something. Before you post, put yourself in the position of a non-medical professional reading the post first thing in the morning. If it doesn’t feel right, you probably shouldn’t post it.
You can find more guidance on adhering to patient privacy and confidentiality guidelines, safeguarding your information and other key issues in the AMA policy on social media. A session at the 2014 AMA Annual Meeting honed in on how to use Twitter, with even more tips on using hashtags, sparking debate and being an influencer.