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The Social Media Summit in Health Professions Education
  1. Jonathan Sherbino1,2
  1. 1Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, Ottawa, Canada
  2. 2Department of Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jonathan Sherbino, McMaster Clinic, Hamilton General Hospital, 237 Barton St E, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, L8L 2X2; sherbino{at}

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“Big breakthroughs happen when what is suddenly possible meets what is desperately needed.” Thomas L Friedman


The use of social media is a disruptive innovation that is fundamentally changing the landscape of health professions education. “Social media use internet-based communications technology to engage geographically dispersed groups or individuals to create or share content related to a common theme, thus forming a ‘virtual’ community”.1 Social media also promote the development and strengthening of communities around a common interest, in networks of 3–3000. In the case of health professions education, virtual communities distribute education resources and also actively engage in the production, modification and evaluation of education resources. The spectrum of social media platforms includes blogs, microblogs (eg, Twitter), networking websites (eg, Facebook), podcasts and online courses (eg, Khan Academy).2 Incorporation of social media into clinical and education practice has been rapidly growing in the last 50 years.3 ,4 Social media can be considered ‘disruptive’ because they leverage inexpensive emerging technology to promote learning via novel methods.5 These novel approaches to learning may either supplement or displace altogether existing education methods. However, educators must be cautious in the rapid adoption without critical appraisal of such new learning modalities.6 The novelty of technology could lead to the inappropriate incorporation of social media without appreciation of unintended consequences.

Recognising the rapid adoption of social media and their disruptive influence on health professions education, the International Conference on Residency Education established a committee to plan an international consensus conference, the Social Media …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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