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Using social media to teach, learn and engage in medicine


Alex Djuricich, M.D., is associate dean for Continuing Medical Education & Med-Peds Residency Program Director at Indiana University. In this conversation, he chats with Dennis Jolley from University of Utah Health Sciences about social media in medicine as a tool for engaging with colleagues, students and patients. Follow them both on Twitter at @MedPedsDoctor and @dsjutah and download the Twitter 101 guide for physicians.

Listen here:

Announcer: Asking questions, seeking perspectives, searching for answers. Algorithms for Innovation, live from Philadelphia at the AAMC 2013.

Alex: Hi I am Alex Djuricich. I am the associate dean for continuing medical education at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

Dennis: This is Dennis Jolley with the University of Utah Health Sciences and I actually know you best as @MedPedsDoctor on Twitter. So thank you for coming in today.

Alex: Thanks Dennis, I really appreciate it.

Dennis: Why is Twitter your chosen platform?

Alex: I find Twitter helpful because I think it's an educational concept that we can use that to educate others. Both to retrieve information, to learn from others, as well as to push information out and to give others information. In this case about medicine or medical education.

Dennis: Why Twitter unlike other platforms?

Alex: Sure. So in other platforms I think there are different privacy settings. What I actually like about Twitter is that it's totally public and so if I'm very careful about what I do, then anyone can see it. Anyone can be another one of my professional society members. It could be another classmate, a medical student for example. A resident in my residency training program, a faculty member, anybody.

Dennis: One of the things that you mentioned there is that you talk about the give and take, which, more and more what we're hearing from the consumers of patients is "Don't just talk to me, listen to me." And I think social media allows us to engage in that way.

Alex: I think you're spot on. An example of that is some of the Twitter chats. So for example, Thursday evenings, 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time is a medical education chat. And one of my colleagues, Ryan Madanick from the University of North Carolina has put on a wonderful chat. And it really puts an equal playing field for everyone. There are faculty that are on that chat, there are medical students on that chat. And on that chat, everyone is equal.

Dennis: You talked about how you liked that fact that it's very open, that Twitter is very open. Whereas, a lot of people in medicine worry about the privacy issue. How do you confront that, or answer that question when your colleagues ask?

Alex: I think this is an area that's certainly right for curricular reform in the future. And we are seeing examples of how people are handling digital literacy, and specifically creating curricula for students. The problem is that some of the faculty don't know this. So they are really clamoring for people who are experts in this area. And it's a burgeoning field. Nobody really is an expert. So there are people that are certainly putting themselves out into that digital space to make that happen. An example is a presentation that happened yesterday, Dr. Bryan Vartabedian from Baylor.

Dennis: Yeah, it was a great presentation. I was in on that as well. It was exciting to see that many people engaged around digital literacy. I think that the AAMC meeting has really come a long way in the social medial realm just in the last couple of years.

Alex: Yeah, I think that's a great point. When you look at just the number of tweets that's happening. I haven't look at the analytics today, but I'm sure they're through the roof as they were yesterday. But I think that this is an area where new people are learning. I had someone sitting next to me in of the plenary sessions and was asking me what I was doing and I was tweeting. And the next thing I know, he wanted me to send him the tweet information so he could learn about it. So it was a really interesting component of how we can interact with each other. And this is someone I literally met five seconds before that.

Dennis: Exactly . And it's a great way to continue that relationship beyond the meeting and beyond that session.

Alex: Absolutely

Dennis: What do you see going forward as other opportunities for social media beyond where we are at right now? Be a futurist for a minute.

Alex: Sure. So I look at this as an opportunity where the medical community and particularly those who have some medical expertise can push out some of the information to the patients who are reading anything that they want. There are some sites out there that are just plain charlatan-like, to be honest with you. And it's a problem because that's the information that people are seeing.

If they can see from a respected source, and there are some respected sources that are already out there now. But clearly new ones need to be created, particularly at the local level. I think that can really help those patients understand this is the information that they need.

The perfect example and the prototype is vaccines. All the information out there about how vaccines are bad, when we just know that the data are not that way. And that vaccines in general are really quite safe for patients, and they really should be getting them to help both themselves as well as their families.

Dennis: That was a great example. And I think it ties in incredibly well with our AAMC's goals around advocacy. I've always said that basic science and literacy in the general population is our biggest advocacy issue. Not government relations. And I think that what you're doing and what others are doing around social media is breaking down that barrier. So thank you very much.

Alex: Well listen, I appreciate it. And I will tell you that I've actually written a blog on that exact topic of advocacy about medicine health and also science as well. So thank you very much Dennis.

Dennis: Thank you. Thanks for coming by.

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