Social Networking and the Education of Medical Professionals: Student's opinions regarding education, networking and patient outcomes when compared to traditional methods of communication.

Burke Schmidt PA-C, Constance, David Dumais PA-S, Chelsea Parman PA-S, and Lauren Shoemaker PA-S

Online social networking has become a common avenue for the discovery and sharing of information and ideas in both the personal and professional realms.  Due to the public nature of such sites as Facebook and Twitter, the potential exists for unlimited exposure of a healthcare professional's personal data to the general public at large.  One of the important aspects of educating medical professionals is the integration of high standards of professionalism in both professional and public life.  By the use of social networking, characteristics of being a professional are expanding to include indirect methods of patient interaction. Although the potential exists for professional issues to arise via this avenue, it has also become clear that there is a distinct advantage for students who are able to maneuver through information technology.  By integrating technology into educational environments, universities have the unique opportunity to prepare students to function in blended (virtual and face to face) communities of practice and to investigate the development and effectiveness of these educational environments.