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‘We are professional on social media’ medical students say

'We are professional on social media' medical students say - Featured Image

The Australian Medical Students’ Association has hit back at claims that a third of medical students post inappropriate material to their social media accounts.

AMSA was responding to a recent survey, published online today in the Medical Journal of Australia, that found 34.7% of respondents reported posting unprofessional content in their social media accounts. Intoxication was the number one ‘inappropriate’ posting, followed by illegal drug use and posting of patient information.

AMSA President James Lawler said he was proud of their members and the professionalism they display on social media.

“AMSA has played a leadership role in giving students clear advice on how to manage their engagement with social media and believes the overwhelming majority of students are acting in a professional and responsible way.

Related: MJA InSight – Students behaving badly

“The MJA study clearly has a number of limitations in its methodology.

“While it makes a contribution to the debate over social media, its results need to be interpreted with caution.”

880 students voluntarily completed the survey over 6 months in 2013.

The authors of the paper, Drs  Christopher Barlow  and  Stewart  Morrison from  The  Alfred  and  St  Vincent’s, acknowledged the limitations of the study, including that it included a small proportion of the 16 993 medical students enrolled that year.They also said most of the participants were from a small number of universities which may limit the generalisation  of the results. The survey also relied on self reporting and recruitment was done on social media.

Related: Social Media for Health Professionals – Benefits and Pitfalls

35% of respondents changed their social media privacy settings as a result of the survey, suggesting that education and reminders could be a simple and effective intervention.

Mr Lawler said that social media is an important communication tool and shouldn’t be demonised.

“There are also a range of benefits from social media in medical education, such as the Free Open Access Medical Education movement ( #FOAMed).

“AMSA will continue to work closely with medical students to maximise the benefits of social media in their studies, on the path to a medical career.”

AMSA and the AMA created guidelines in 2010 for the professional use of social media for doctors and medical students.

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