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Teaching Junior Doctors the Benefits and Barriers of the Social Web


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The Empowered Learner?
16th December 2016

The purpose of this presentation will be to showcase the teaching I deliver to 4th year medical students at The University of Sheffield. The series of five two hour classes called Masterclass ILAs (Inquiry Based Learning Activity) focus on the social and mobile web and how the students can gain a better understanding of it as junior doctors. The sessions are an opportunity for students to build upon their own experiences of social media in a personal and professional setting and how they can use these and other technologies to their advantage once they qualify as a medical professional. The sessions explore the problems large organisations such as the NHS have in staying up to date with such as social media and how they can negate potential problems they can cause. The feedback from running these sessions has so far been excellent and more are planned for later this year.

Learning objectives

The sessions are to help students understand the ethical, technical and privacy issues relating to patients and health professionals engaging with web and social technologies as part of their health care. They aid students to discover useful tools and resources that are currently gaining acceptance in the healthcare setting, with a strong focus on social media.

The sessions look at a variety of topics around digital technologies and the web including mobile apps, patient websites and forums. The students are encouraged to discuss the socio-economic, digital literacy and technological implications for patients and the NHS. Much of the teaching and subsequent discussion explores the ethical and practical issues around social media use in a professional healthcare setting.

A prime objective is to get the students to look at professional guidelines from bodies such as the BMA, Royal College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Nursing. I engage them in a discussion to gauge the student’s own beliefs as to using social media on a personal basis and how this translates into a professional healthcare setting.

Another key area for the master classes are to look at how patients use social media to self-diagnose and support others with similar health conditions. I ask the students as to their beliefs and concerns around patients searching for health information and discu­ssing it in a healthcare setting. We look at what the ethical issues are relating to this and how to deal with issues relating to patients making friends and connections with their healthcare providers on the social web.

The sessions have proved to be very engaging and enlightening for me as teacher and for the student’s as they prepare for professional life. All are practising junior doctors so it makes it even more worthwhile to work with students who are putting their study into action.

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Teaching Junior Doctors the Benefits and Barriers of the Social Web

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  3. 3. Tattersall - [Last Accessed 2/12/2016]
  4. 4. Feedback ● Interesting topics facing the NHS in future years ● Opportunity to discuss interesting topics surrounding social media and technology in the NHS ● Not covered in our course, but very relevant ● Good exposure to advances in use of technology in the NHS ● Insightful - relevant ● Interesting topics discussed throughout the ILA which may become an integral part of working in the NHS