a Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library , The George Washington University , Washington, DC , USA.
b Department of Medicine , The George Washington University , Washington, DC , USA.
c Department of Medicine , The George Washington University , Washington, DC , USA.
d Department of Pediatrics , Children's National, The George Washington University , Washington, DC , USA.
Inappropriate social media behavior can have detrimental effects on students' future opportunities, but medical students are given little opportunity to reflect upon ways of integrating their social media identities with their newly forming professional identities.
In 2012, a required educational session was developed for 1st-year medical students on social media and professional identity. Objectives include identifying professionalism issues and recognizing positive social media use. The 2-hour large-group session uses student-generated social media examples to stimulate discussion and concludes with an expert panel. Students complete a postsession reflection assignment.
The required social media session occurs early in the 1st year and is part of the Professionalism curriculum in The George Washington University School of Medicine. Reflection papers are graded for completion.
The study began in 2012 and ran through 2014; a total of 313/505 participants (62%) volunteered for the study. Assessment occurred through qualitative analysis of students' reflection assignments. Most students (65%, 203/313) reported considering changes in their social media presence due to the session. The analysis revealed themes relating to a broader understanding of online identity and opportunities to enhance careers. In a 6-month follow-up survey of 76 students in the 2014 cohort who completed the entire survey, 73 (94%) reported some increase in awareness, and 48 (64%) made changes to their social media behavior due to the session (response rate = 76/165; 46%), reflecting the longer term impact.
Opportunities for discussion and reflection are essential for transformational learning to occur, enabling understanding of other perspectives. Incorporating student-submitted social media examples heightened student interest and engagement. The social media environment is continually changing, so curricular approaches should remain adaptable to ensure timeliness and relevance. Including online professionalism curricula focused on implications and best practices helps medical students develop an awareness of their electronic professional identities.