Twitter as a medical education tool: How 2 UChicago residents used social media for training

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The Internet has made information sharing incredibly easy, with the ability to access information with a couple clicks of a mouse or swipes on a touch screen. Residents at University of Chicago Medicine leveraged this ease of information sharing through Twitter to offer a learning tool for other residents.

Akhil Narang, MD, and Paul Bergl, MD, were chief residents for the University of Chicago Medicine's internal medicine residency program when they started a Twitter account to share educational tips, program information and research with other residents, reports Science Life, the online publication associated with University of Chicago's Medicine & Biological Sciences.

"Everyone is connected to their cell phones. Everyone is always looking at their email or Facebook and taking pictures," Dr. Narang said in the report. "I think the natural extension is to use it in your training, and use it as part of your medical education at all levels, whether you're a med student, fellow or attending physician."

Additionally, Dr. Narang said providing this type of information on Twitter eased the "email fatigue" many of his colleagues were feeling. For residents who couldn't attend morning reports, the tweets helped ensure they got all the necessary information.

Drs. Narang and Bergl published a paper about their Twitter use in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. Their results found 69 percent of residents felt the tweets added value to their education.

However, many of the tweets were not read on Twitter itself. Drs. Narang and Bergl would cross-post tweets to the program's Facebook page as well, according to the report. Fifty-four percent read the tweets on Facebook.

Additionally, first-year interns were more likely to use Twitter on their phones than second or third year residents. But Dr. Narang remains optimistic about the potential for Twitter in education.

"It has a huge role that probably hasn't been recognized when it comes to medical education, live and in real time," Dr. Narang said. "From a medical student's perspective or a resident's perspective, whether you're studying for your boards, your exams, or just trying to learn a little more about your rotation, if you follow the right users on Twitter there's a lot of medical information available, and you can stay current and stay up to date."

More articles on Twitter:

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