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@SirBill: the power of social media to transform medical education
  1. Jonathan Sherbino1,2,
  2. Jason R Frank2,3
  1. 1Division of Emergency Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jonathan Sherbino, Hamilton General Hospital, McMaster Clinic, 237 Barton St E, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8L 2X2; sherbino{at}

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If William Osler were to visit today the hospitals in Montreal, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Oxford where he taught in the latter part of the 19th century, he would encounter an array of innovations—robotic surgery, genomic sequencing, organ transplantation, to name a few—that formed no part of the medical landscape of his own time. On the other hand, the system of medical education used at those same hospitals would be familiar to Sir William. He would recognise the model of specialist residencies that he (along with the surgeon William Halsted and others) introduced, and he would no doubt be gratified to see that his success in moving clinical education from the abstractions of the lecture hall to the realities of the bedside has endured.1

It is striking that, while scientific discovery and technological innovation moved diagnostic and therapeutic practice forward by leaps and bounds, the model of medical education has remained essentially unchanged over the past century. More recently, however, the uptake of the latest wave of internet-based media by individuals, groups, institutions and enterprises has been rapid and inexorable, and the characteristics of these technologies—‘networked’, ‘instantaneous’, ‘crowd-sourced’, ‘social’—have had a profound impact on culture and behaviour. For medical educators, the question is not whether these ‘social media’ will be applied in their field, but how. Indeed, the emergence of these technologies presents an opportunity to reimagine …

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