What Are Medical Students Using Social Media For? Survey Analysis And Insight Into High And Low Frequency Users.
Dongjin Suh, James Dittman, Michael F. Amendola, MD.
VA Medical Center/VCU Health System, Richmond, VA, USA.
Objectives: Some have proposed that novice medical learners actively use social networking sites (SNS) such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to obtain medical knowledge and explore potential career choices. One website used by many is www.studentdoctor.net (SDnet). We set forth to survey first year medical students to identify if they use SNS to learn about career opportunities and/or medical concepts and investigate utilization of SDnet.METHODS: A SNS survey was distributed to first year medical students. Gender, agreement with statements of interest in surgery and vascular surgery, use of local medical school SNS, distribution of SNS use (contact with family/friends, information/news, connect with attending), and use of SDnet for medical school choice and/or USMLE advice were collected using binary response or the Likert scale (5 Strong Agreement/Frequent Use). Specific SNS membership and use frequency were collected and student responses were divided into two groups - those who self-reported high frequency (HF) use of SNS “several times a day” versus those who reported low frequency (LF) use “weekly, monthly or rarely.” Fisher’s Exact** t-test* were utilized. RESULTS: 36 (67.9%) out of 53 distributed surveys were completed. There was no significant difference in interest in surgery overall (3.4±0.9 vs. 3.5 ± 1.0; p=0.78*) nor vascular surgery (2.8±0.6 vs. 30.9; p=0.56) between LF and HF groups respectively. Facebook was the leading SNS in the LF (39%) and the HF (40%) groups with Instagram use more common in HF (36%) than LF (26%).SDnet use for medical school selection (70% vs. 83%; p=0.42) nor USMLE advice (54% vs. 57%; p=1.0) was not statistically significantly different between the LF and HF groups respectively.CONCLUSIONS: HF users were significantly more likely to utilize SNS to obtain news and maintain social interactions than LF users. No significant difference was found when obtaining information about medical/surgical careers, connections with attendings, and to follow local medical school SNS accounts. Additionally, sites like SDnet were similarly utilized by both groups for medical school selection and USMLE advice. These results should encourage medical schools and medical societies to cultivate professional SNS and web presence.
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