Surgeons tout Twitter use at hospitals to enhance training

Although some hospitals are limiting social media use among their physicians in fear of possible legal repercussions, the University of Buffalo is encouraging its surgeons to tweet, according to an article in the Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons.

In particular, surgeons should embrace social media to accelerate and enhance the flow of information for medical training, wrote the authors, two surgeons and avid tweeters from the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

"[A] lot of the training consists of passing on information, lessons learned and wisdom to the next generation. Twitter allows us to dramatically scale up our ability to do this," said senior author Dr. Philip L. Glick, vice chairman and professor in UB's Department of Surgery and professor of pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology, in a news release. "When I post something on Twitter, all the pediatric surgeons, trainees and colleagues in the country and the world can see it instantly."

Surgeons will find social media an appropriate tool for graduate medical education (GME) and continuing medical education (CME) training because the field is highly visual. "Social media allows us to take digitized audio and video content of procedures, edit it into pieces that have some teaching value and share it," noted Glick.

But surgeons can't start utilizing social media haphazardly. Jumping into the social media waters requires extensive planning and institutional guidelines, according to the article. But soon, medical professionals can turn to the American College of Surgeons and the American Medical Association for assistance, as they are now developing guidelines for responsibly using social media to communicate with patients.

Meanwhile, the operating room may start to see more patient tweeters, as well as surgeons. For instance, an epilepsy patient allowed Aurora Health Care's social media manager to tweet throughout his brain surgery operation, reports STV.

To learn more:
- read the University of Buffalo news release
- check out the STV article

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