Letters to the Editor
To the Editor: We commend Topps and colleagues1 for their timely work on the utilization of social media, specifically the YouTube platform, to disseminate curricular tools in medical education. While YouTube is indeed one of the most, if not the most, widely used media-share sites available on the Web, it also may certainly be one of the most widely “blocked” sites from inside the walls of academic medical centers. The authors note that the use of YouTube may be limited because of the impact on the relationship between teacher and learner; we assert that while this is indeed true, the major limitation to its use may be because of the regulated nature of hospital IT environments. In many institutions, social media sites such as YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook are blocked from staff use for fear of interference with clinical care responsibilities. While we recognize the safety implications that prompt these regulations, we encourage hospital leadership, instead of implementing blanket regulation against such sites, to recognize the educational power that these tools represent, clearly outlined by Topps et al, and address misuse with education and managerial oversight in lieu of widespread blackouts.
The work of these authors further emphasizes the utility of such platforms and also speaks to the advantage of utilizing novel tools to engage and activate learners. In addition to the accessibility of these platforms for the dissemination of curricular materials, media-share sites such as those listed above have been adopted due to the “push” nature of the technology to deliver educational content directly to the learner.2 While the movement of meaningful use of health IT has focused almost exclusively on the electronic health record, we believe discussion should extend to the meaningful use of Web-based resources for education and engagement. Our Millennial learners continue to be more connected to the Web than were any prior audience, so why are some institutions insistent on pulling the plug?
Jeanne Marie Farnan, MD, MHPE
Assistant professor and director of clinical skills education, University of Chicago and Pritzker School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emily Landon, MD
Assistant professor and hospital epidemiologist, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
Vineet M. Arora, MD, MAPP
Associate professor and associate program director, Internal Medicine Residency, and assistant dean for scholarship and discovery, University of Chicago and Pritzker School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois.
1. Topps D, Helmer J, Ellaway R. YouTube as a platform for publishing clinical skills training videos. Acad Med. 2013;88:192–197
2. Bahner DP, Adkins E, Patel N, Donley C, Nagel R, Kman NE. How we use social media to supplement a novel curriculum in medical education. Med Teach. 2012;34:439–444