Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics


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COMSEP Meeting in Ottawa, ON

Poster Presentation:

Do learners like social media? Investigating the use of Facebook Groups as a supplement to a Pediatric Clerkship.

Adriana M. Hernandez,CHLA-USC,Los Angeles,CA,Michael Cosimini,CHLA-USC,Los Angeles,Ca,Kelly Clancy,CHLA-USC,Los Angeles,CA,Parul Bhatia,CHLA-USC,Los Angeles,CA

Background: Incorporating social media into medical education has been a hot topic among medical educators given known efficacy of internet-based learning and social media’s ease of access over a variety of devices. Further, there is a growing body of research on how learners already use social media for educational purposes. Despite Facebook’s dominance in the social media world with 936 million daily active users, few studies have evaluated its use for medical educators in reaching learners and whether learners would be interested in using the Facebook platform for educational purposes.

Objective: A Facebook group with educational content was created for medical students during their pediatric clerkship to assess ease and frequency-of-use in addition to learner satisfaction with using Facebook as an educational supplement to the clerkship. 

Methods: Pediatric clerkship students (3 six-week blocks, 28 students per block) were invited to join a Facebook group where a pediatric resident posted once daily. Posts included clinical pearls, knowledge-based questions, and relevant news articles. Correct answers were posted the following day. Content was standardized among the three blocks. Students were encouraged to respond to posted questions and to post their own content. A General Pediatrics faculty member served as a moderator to ensure content remained medically accurate and HIPAA compliant. No incentives were offered for participation. The group remained private, meaning faculty and residents who evaluated students could not know the level of a student’s participation. At the conclusion of each block, students completed an anonymous survey evaluating ease and frequency-of-use of the group, whether they found the content relevant to their learning, and whether they would want a similar intervention in other clerkships. Preferred social media site and means of accessing the group were also assessed. Learner use of the group was documented by recording membership, number of responses to posts made by the resident, and number of posts made by the learners.

Results: Preliminary data from two blocks show 35 of eligible 56 students joined the group. Participation on the group consisted of responses to resident-posted questions with 21/44 (48%) of questions answered. Students posted their own questions for their colleagues twice. 35 students completed the survey. 34/35 (97%) stated that Facebook was the social media site they used most often. Of those who had completed the survey, 29 had used the group. 27/29 (93%) agreed or strongly agreed that the group was easy to use. 26/29 (90%) either agreed or strongly agreed that the information posted was useful in improving their knowledge and 24/29 (83%) agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “I would like more clerkships to use the Facebook group platform.”

Discussion: Our results show that Facebook use is already well-established among medicals students, and that an educator-driven Facebook group was easily adopted and well-accepted by these students during their pediatric clerkship. Further, its use led to self-reported improvements in knowledge, and most students recommend expansion of its use to other clerkships.