The use of social media has led to an expanse of the medical student’s exposure to plastic surgery. Before social media, a medical student with interest in plastic surgery would be limited by institutional access and geographic base. Our home institution lacks a plastic surgery department, and as a result a large portion of our initial and continued interest in the field was curated through the use of social media. In this communication, we discuss how medical students interested in plastic surgery can use social media to increase their exposure, create opportunities, and establish mentorship, overcoming barriers to institutions without a plastic surgery department.
Social media provide a conduit among physicians, students, patients, and the lay public. The ever-expanding social media universe integrating with plastic surgery has allowed these groups to interface to a much higher degree, which encourages the advancement of plastic surgery while eliminating communication barriers and gaining insight to the field.1–3 We have used social media to make and maintain mentorship from plastic surgeons across the globe, including those in the United States, Japan, Brazil, and Germany, including the Editor-in-Chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
As students interested in plastic surgery, we were able to curate social media content through the use of hashtags such as #PRS, #PlasticSurgery, #givingback, and #teachingthenextgeneration.1,4,5 Once connected, we are constantly reminded of the benefit of social media. These accounts could help us study with board-style questions, message groups for medical students with explanations of procedure indications and techniques in the field, and most importantly, allow us to ask for advice and receive mentorship.
There are salient differences in the content desired by medical students versus the lay public (i.e., potential plastic surgery patients).1–3 We desire unfiltered content of intraoperative cases and technical approaches used to restore form and function. However, the lay public may shy away from this content, preferring to see the surgeon’s personal lifestyle, practice ideals, and life outside the operating room. We are not the only users of social media and thus need to realize that this content presentation may shift the goals of any social media account and lead to the loss of mentorship and didactic ability. We must be cognizant of this, to not lose sight of those accounts and relationships we value so much.
Medical student interaction on social media is a relatively new venture, and one that can be greatly beneficial, allowing us to connect on a more expansive level. It is also one that must be approached cautiously, without overstepping our roles and boundaries as medical students. Toeing this fine line is one of the nuances of social media and being a medical student. However, if done correctly, forming these relationships—at any time or place with just a cellphone—can be an amazing opportunity. The connections we have made on social media have allowed us opportunities to coordinate and have firsthand experiences with them in the office and operating room. Social media have successfully bridged the gap, for us as students, from an initial digital connection into a multitude of opportunities for medical students interested in plastic surgery.
The authors have no financial interest to declare in relation to the content of this article.
Lee Weber, B.S.
Nima Khosravani, B.S.
Florida State University College of Medicine
1. Branford OA, Kamali P, Rohrich RJ, et al.#PlasticSurgery. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2016;138:13541365.
2. Rohrich RJ, Weinstein AGConnect with plastic surgery: Social media for good. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2012;129:789792.
3. Rohrich RJSo, do you want to be Facebook friends? How social media have changed plastic surgery and medicine forever. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2017;139:10211026.
4. Humphries LS, Curl B, Song DH#SocialMedia for the academic plastic surgeon: Elevating the brand. Plast Reconstr Surg Glob Open 2016;4:e599.
5. Patel A, Pfaff M, Tuggle CTThe plastic and reconstructive surgery Facebook page: Newfound treasure. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2013;132:189e.
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