Social Networking in Medicine: The VIIth Nerve Facebook Page
Dalhousie Medical Journal
In today's technological society, the implications of social media in the learning environment may be of significant value and affect the future practice of medicine; however, synergies between social networks and medicine are underrepresented in the social media and medical literature. Today's society has seen a revolution in technology and a rise in the popularity of social network platforms, including Facebook. Facebook was created in 2004 and is now the largest social media network
... ia network worldwide. 1 Facebook has a network of 750 million users. 2 Social media is a valuable tool in connecting individuals worldwide while enabling unprecedented speed and scope of communication and information sharing. Social networking sites are popular online communication forums that allow individuals to engage with others over the Internet. 3 A recent study of university students found that 25 % of students used Facebook for educational purposes and 66 % were open to its use for this purpose. 4 There is much interest in Abstract Background: Social networks including Facebook are gaining popularity in industry, however, health care has yet to fully embrace this trend. Social networking enables unprecedented speed and scope of communication and information sharing; mobile devices allow health professionals to feel connected to training hospitals, peers and mentors. The VIIth Nerve is a Facebook page for medical students worldwide, providing a platform to share medical cases, educational videos and audio sounds. Methods: A Facebook page was developed and is ongoing. A research team has been established to design and run the page, and collect data. Demographics, location of users, visits to the page, type of posts and total number of users were tracked. Results: To date, 161 users subscribed to the Facebook page and a total of 44,042 people have been reached. Sixtyfour per cent of subscribers are female, 89 per cent of whom fall between the ages of 18 and 34. Users are from nine countries and eight different first languages are indicated. It has been found that users are most engaged by visual materials, namely videos clips and photos. Conclusion: Synergies between social networks and medicine is vastly underrepresented in the literature to date. Implications of social media in the learning environment may be of significant value and affect the future practice of medicine. Future steps will include focus groups to recognize the benefits and pitfalls of using Facebook in the health care setting. This research effectively connects students internationally, and will determine how social media can effectively be implemented to prepare students for life-long learning.