Remember the consciously incompetent: defining what Social Media is and isn’t

At #APEM2012 Dr. Natalie May (@_nmay) and I gave a talk entitled:

“This house believes Paediatric Emergency Medicine in the UK would benefit from more doctors being active on mainstream social media”

Natalie was “for” and I was (for the sake of the talk) against. Natalie did an excellent presentation (without bullet points and only pictures – @ffoliet would have been proud) and I responded with no audiovisual media (apart from the nativity social media you-tube video) to strengthen my argument (the transcript of the talk and the video can be found here).

A number of unexpected questions and responses came up which I think are useful to share as it is important that social media, #FOAMed and other potentially extremely helpful learning media are not tarred with the wrong brush!

1. Social Media is a concept not one thing (twitter is utterly different from facebook which in turn is not blogging).

2. Facebook ‘scares’ have done the reputation of Social Media significant harm. Health care professionals sticking naked pictures of themselves on their own personal sites does not mean that everyone must follow suit.

2. #FOAMed is a concept that may span many types social media, is certainly not contained by it, and can simply be information via a website…

3. There is great concern that not enough material is quality assured, “…but what if the information is wrong?” we were asked. I found this interesting as it is up to any clinician to decide themselves the quality of information they receive. Does reading one journal article mean you go out and change your practice completely? Do you not weigh up the information, discuss with colleagues and seek other sources of evidence? #FOAMed represents a methodology of the best content percolating upwards to the attention of  interested clinicians. Does everything need to come with a guaranteed evidence based seal of approval? Certainly not in my opinion – what better way to slow things down and stifle debate.

4. Consent and Patient confidentiality cause anxiety, “…but how do you talk about the most interesting, and therefore usually identifiable cases.” This is a very valid concern and has been debated previously (see the comments section). This is not an easy question to answer but in some ways is similar to [3]. In itself not a reason not to engage in the multitude of learning resources out there. Time, experience and legal testing will enable the public and regulators to determine what is appropriate or not but currently there is clear guidance on consent from the GMC (and other healthcare organisations around the world).

I am left with the feeling that the most engaged in developing education 2.0 need to remember they are unconsciously competent and that some work needs to be done to reach the consciously incompetent.

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