Letters to the Editor
We agree with Parikh and colleagues that education, not repercussion, is the strategy to utilize when addressing students' forays into the digital realm. However, the curricular barriers they have identified, namely lack of students' perspectives on responsibility and regulation and faculty experience, are indeed surmountable. We have found that students and housestaff believe they have an obligation to represent themselves professionally online and have concerns about how their digital behavior will be received by current and future supervisors and patients.1 These same trainees oppose blanket regulation, which they see as a First Amendment and privacy infringement. Frequency of use of online tools was associated with an increased likelihood of opposition to regulation.1 Regardless of level, trainees asserted their responsibility to maintain professional demeanor in their digital behavior.1 These findings reaffirm our belief that trainees' involvement in policy development is critical and that the egregious acts of a few should not stifle the positive contributions of the majority.2,3
We emphatically agree that trainees, the primary end users of these technologies, should be integrally involved in the provision of this education. For example, at the University of Chicago, with input from students, we have incorporated this education into the MP21: Medical Professionalism in the 21st Century curriculum, specifically the appropriate use of digital media and Internet privacy. We also encourage student-led initiatives on educating about our institution, primarily via tweeting and podcasting.4 Our faculty are also experimenting with Internet technologies to advance medical education by blogging or tweeting about topics from career advising to specialty choice.4 Currently, faculty experience with, and understanding of, Web 2.0 applications are unknown. The educational community would benefit from a rigorous survey of the state of digital media knowledge amongst leadership in medical education.
Jeanne M. Farnan, MD, MHPE
Assistant professor, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shalini T. Reddy, MD
Associate professor, Department of Medicine and Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
Vineet M. Arora, MD, MAPP
Assistant professor, Department of Medicine and Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
1Farnan JM, Higa J, Paro JAM, Reddy ST, Humphrey H, Arora VM. Training physicians in the digital age: Use of digital media among medical trainees and views on professional responsibility and regulation. Am J Bioethics. In press.
2Farnan JM, Paro JAM, Higa J, Edelson J, Humphrey HJ, Arora VM. The YouTube generation: Implications for medical professionalism. Perspect Biol Med. 2008;51:517–524.
3Chretien KC, Greysen R, Chretien J, Kind T. Online posting of unprofessional content by medical students. JAMA. 2009;302:1309–1315.
4Farnan JM, Reddy ST, Arora VM. Medical students and unprofessional online content. JAMA. 2010;303:328–329.