The Role of Medical Students in Social Media

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The first ever social media and healthcare workshop for medical students was held at San Beda College of Medicine last June 9, 2016. It was organized by the Association of Philippine Medical Colleges - Student Network and San Beda College of Medicine Student Council. This event was inspired by the recently concluded Healthcare Social Media Summit 2016 held at Philippine International Convention Center. It was organized by #HealthXPH in collaboration with the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development. I was blessed to be part of the HCSMPH 2016 even during the planning period of the summit. I was also blessed to be the moderator for the education track of the summit. 

Dr. Iris Tan, founding member of #healthxph and a healthcare social media advocate always tell me of the ripple effect. A ripple expand across the water when an object is dropped into it. This is the same with the actions that we make. Our actions can have an effect to the people around us and can cause them to do the same actions to other people. The knowledge and information we imparted to the people around us can be disseminated and passed from community to community to broaden its impact. I believe that this is what happened and what we have achieved through the 1st Social Media and Healthcare Workshop.

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Organizers of the 1st Social Media and Healthcare Workshop

I was one of the organizers for this summit along with Rye from Siliman University College of Medicine and Ebor, TJ and Gerdie from San Beda College of Medicine. I was very thankful with the organizing team because I saw the synergy and cooperation in the team just to make the event successful. Our fervent thanks to APMC-SN for providing us with the financial support and San Beda College of Medicine for providing us with the venue and manpower support. The summit was attended by around 120 medical students from Luzon and Visayas medical schools.

I will be writing four blog posts about this summit. For now, let me share to you the things that I learned about the role of medical students in social media.

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Dr. Gerald Belandres delivering his message about the role of medical students in social media

One of our speakers during the event was Dr. Gerald Belandres of Salamat Dok. He shared how medical students can use the social media in health promotion and education. Dr. Belandres emphasized that this is the ultimate role of medical students and healthcare professionals in social media. Dr. Belandres discussed the advantages and disadvantages of healthcare professionals being in social media. There are lots of fraud and incorrect information circulating in different social networking sites. A lot of snake oil salesmen are taking advantage of the fast information dissemination through social media. As medical students, there is a need to correct these information for the benefit of our patients. 

Dr. Belandres shared that social media requires interaction between users and that it is an avenue to share experiences and to inspire the readers and the audience. In the Philippines, majority of the users of social media are females who belong to the 20-29 age group. On the average, people spend an average time of five hours using phone or tablets. Most of it are spent browsing through different social networking sites. Most of the patients are now in social media this is why it is now a very good avenue to share information about health and diseases.

Dr. Belandres also shared that professionalism in social media should be possessed by medical students. He reminded us that as medical students, we need to  post correct and reliable information online. He even shared to us a tip on how to grow followers and entice readers in social media. He shared that there has to be some level of humor and emotion to capture the attention of the readers.

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A medical student asks Doc Gerald about handling criticisms in social media (c) Oculus
A medical student asked Dr. Belandres how to handle criticisms on the articles that you post online. He shared to us that we really can't please everybody. There will always be people who will be against our beliefs. He advised us not to argue with the basher online instead message that person privately or make another post to clarify or correct certain article that you posted online.

As medical students we are given the opportunity to inform and educate the public about health and diseases. Social media can be used to improve the knowledge of the public but it can also be used to share misleading information to the public. We have to be responsible in using our social media and we should be careful in everything we post online. Always post right and correct information in social media.

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Participants of the 1st Social Media and Healthcare Workshop

P.S. Thank you to The Pulse, the official student publication of San Beda College of Medicine and Oculus for helping us with the documentation of the event.

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