Letters to the Editor
To the Editor:
Health professionals are increasingly analyzing the role that digital media can and should have, as well as how physicians and students can be guided about the content they post and its potential ramifications.1,2 As Farnan et al3 pointed out in their timely commentary, the goal should not be to reprimand students for the content of their online presence but to educate them about the implications that content may have on their professional development, including but also beyond the doctor–patient relationship. However, several barriers currently exist to developing sound curricula addressing this important topic. First, faculty would be aided by having basic information about students' perspectives and methods of online engagement. However, as far as we know, no analysis of students' views about online professionalism has been published to date. Additionally, many faculty have limited experience with these technologies and may be unable to provide experience-based guidance to students. Thus, students may have few qualified mentors, hindering their ability to develop professional attitudes and practices related to digital media. Courses or workshops for faculty about social networking, posting material online, and digital media in general should be developed and evaluated. Such courses—perhaps taught in part by students—would allow faculty to improve their capacity to model online professionalism and to communicate with students about responsible engagement with digital media.
We encourage faculty and students to work together to discuss and develop educational opportunities focused on informed and responsible use of digital media. Connectivity need not come at the expense of professionalism.
Sujal M. Parikh
Medical student, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Medical student, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Casey B. White, PhD
Assistant dean for medical education and assistant professor of medical education, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
1Jain SH. Practicing medicine in the age of Facebook. N Engl J Med. 2009;361:649–651.
2Chretian KC, Greysen SR, Chretien JP, Kind T. Online posting of unprofessional content by medical students. JAMA. 2009;302:1309–1315.
3Farnan JM, Paro JAM, Higa JT, Reddy ST, Humphrey HJ, Arora VM. The relationship status of digital media and professionalism: It's complicated. Acad Med. 2009;84:1479–1481.