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Tweets for Credit: Social Media’s Role in CME

This spring, the Einstein office of faculty development ran an event for 100 medical educators. Among the topics we explored: using social media in medical education. The all-day session featuring social media mavens Dr. Kent Bottles and Dr. Katherine Chretien drew faculty in droves.

As a result of the strong interest in this topic, I started thinking about how social media could (and should) help promote and enhance the careers of doctors.

Since our office already runs workshops for CME credit, I figured organizing a session devoted to better learning how to use social media professionally was worth a try.

From a breakout session we had that day with Dr. Chretien, it was clear that many faculty members had a keen interest in learning how to better use Twitter. They seemed attracted to Twitter’s quick pace, easy learning opportunities and ability to help them control more carefully what they share publicly in social media.

Working with social media manager David Flores and Paul Moniz, managing director of communications and marketing at Einstein, we developed a two-hour workshop to introduce doctors to Twitter—the basics of strategy and use—for CME credit.

Within an hour of sending the e-invitations, the session was fully booked—with a waiting list. Was it that faculty members could earn CME credit without leaving campus or was it a sincere interest in becoming more “social”? We think it was the latter! Faculty members are already asking about the next session.

Check out the presentation so you can see exactly what was covered. You can also read comments from outsiders who tried to guide our group in real time during the session by using the hashtag #einsteinnewbies. If you’re reading this and are one of those folks . . . many thanks!

Obviously, there’s strong curiosity about why social media matters in medical education, and how to use them. Helping arrange this CME event has stoked my enthusiasm for social media. That’s why my department started its own Twitter feed: @EinsteinFacDev.

Like any social media newbies, we’ve had some ups and downs, fits and starts. And to be quite honest, we haven’t been quite so disciplined about tweeting as regularly as I would like. But I’ve already discovered how useful information from Twitter can be.

On July 7, Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson—@SeattleMamaDoc—tweeted a link to her blog about a provocative Atlantic cover story on whether women can “have it all.” While some of you may wonder whether I live under a rock, I honestly can say I hadn’t seen the story or the resulting flurry of comments it brought due to an especially busy week in the clinic. Were it not for @SeattleMamasDoc’s tweet, I might have completely missed the article in my offline reading. And the tweets in response to that post revealed a fascinating conversation I’m glad I experienced.

One area I’m still struggling with is how best to tweet. Since we started the feed for the office of faculty development, I’m often torn between what I find personally interesting (yoga, ballet, parasitology . . . not necessarily in that order) and what I think our faculty members might find interesting for professional development. What is clear is that it takes time to navigate the so-called “firehose” of Twitter information. You need to put in your time—no question.

Then there are questions of using social media ethically and legally: Should I friend a student or patient on Facebook? How much do I really want to reveal about myself? What if I goof? Fortunately, we have detailed social media guidelines that Paul, David and their team has put together on behalf of the college, as well as a slew of Twitter resources they presented during the session.

But, as with anything else new, the only way to improve is to jump in. Guidelines can take you only so far.

I recognize that some faculty members remain skeptical or even ambivalent about social media. “Where’s the value?” they ask. I think it’s fair to say we’re moving past the question of why doctors should use social media and on to how doctors can use it effectively.

Faculty development is the perfect arena to address these important questions. The first CME session was a hit; we’re planning another. Just what role social media will play in the long term in CME remains unclear. But I think we can all agree that as educators we need to be more open-minded about delving into what sometimes feels like the “discomfort” zone in order to better communicate with our students, patients and tech-savvy peers. Now if only I could figure out how to schedule all those tweets rolling around inside my head!

Have you used social media in CME? What did you learn? Share your comments here or on Twitter: #einsteinnewbies.

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Christina M. Coyle, M.D.

Christina M. Coyle, M.D.

Christina M. Coyle, M.D. is assistant dean for faculty development professor of clinical medicine, Department of Medicine (Infectious Diseases).

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Regina Motarjeme August 24, 2012, 8:34 PM

    Hi Christina, great blog and I would love to hear a little more about your adventures in social media! We developed a program in Diabetes last year with Albert Einstein and Dr. Zonszein was our course director. We created a online educational initiative including assessment surveys, podcasts and transcripts and presented these from our portal my.mediklU.com. Our platform is built with the features of social media in mind; learners can ask questions, communicate through the platform, upload resources etc; additionally our program has both a FB page (https://www.facebook.com/CMEDALE) as well as a twitter account (http://www.twitter.com/cme_dale) which we used to update learners on program details as well as post relevant articles. Like you said: not everybody is ready for it, but the nice things about social media is that you are in control yourself…you can utilize the features as much or little as you prefer. We cannot stop progress, we should embrace it!

    Regina