In recent years, radiology has adapted to new technologies and modalities to improve both the efficiency and accessibility of medical education. For example, flipped classroom techniques and educational game applications have emerged as creative methods for delivering interactive radiology content. However, social media remains an underutilized space that has the potential to serve as a distance learning tool for teaching interns and medical students.
As an image-based specialty, radiology stands to gain from educational trends encouraging rapid presentation, treatment, and response. Over the past two decades, radiology has embraced these platforms for a variety of uses, including but not limited to networking with colleagues and students around the world, sharing interesting patient cases and responding to immediate trends in the field. However, there are several opportunities to expand the role of social media platforms in medical education.
For most of this time, Twitter and Facebook have been the primary social media platforms for engaging interns and medical students online, representing “Social Media 1.0”. In contrast, “Social Media 2.0” reflects a shift in the virtual landscape in which didactic vehicles are sought to engage viewers in a more visual way. This is particularly the case for platforms like Instagram and TikTok.
Therefore, let’s take a closer look at this evolution and outline the current and future uses of social media platforms in radiology medical education.
Social Media 1.0
Twitter is one of the most popular social media platforms for professional networking and education in radiology. Online learning through Twitter is continuous and personalized for users to engage in self-improvement, networking, shared cases and journal clubs. Jaffe and his colleagues summarized the main ways Twitter is and can be used in medical education.1 Educators can share discrete concepts or facts via a basic tweet, or they can link tweets sequentially using images, polls, or reference links to create a lesson. Asking clinical questions or sharing links to case reports and studies can spark conversations and discussions in real time.
In another intriguing use case with the University of Chicago’s internal medicine residency program, Bergl and colleagues evaluated a Twitter account controlled by a chief resident that aimed to advance his program’s educational mission.2 These authors found that 69% of the 61 residents believed their overall education was improved through tweets related to morning report teaching points, interesting case pathology, and educational x-rays/scans.
Twitter can also facilitate discussion and engagement among radiologists, residents, and medical students across the country. Interestingly, Kauffman and colleagues found that the most engaging radiology content on Twitter was case images and scrolling videos, while news links received the least engagement in terms of retweets and likes.3 For radiology, this finding may signal the need for us to focus on establishing a greater presence on alternative platforms.
Radiology has a well-established presence on Facebook. Facebook serves as both a marketing and branding tool for radiologists and their practices/organizations. Facebook groups, such as Radiology Chicks and Breast Imaging Radiologists, have long been active as a community hub for radiologists to share meaningful cases or discuss broader trends in practice, technology and education. Likewise, groups related to specific diseases such as breast cancer or patient support groups exist for radiologists to communicate directly with patients and share high quality information. Similar to Twitter, Facebook groups have also been used to foster learning opportunities between medical students, radiology residents, and practicing physicians. The ability of radiologists to use social media effectively is clear, but Twitter and Facebook represent only the first steps in a broader campaign to raise awareness, showcase the field, and innovate medical education.
Social Media 2.0
Instagram, on the other hand, primarily delivers content via images and videos with captions, which makes it particularly well suited for radiology. Currently, there are several high-volume accounts, such as @radiopaedia and @thexraydoctor, promoting radiology educational materials. Shafer and his colleagues demonstrated the potential effectiveness of Instagram as a radiology training vehicle through their Instagram account, CTisus.4 In less than two years, their cohesive and diverse catalog of posts has generated significant engagement, as the account has racked up over 6,000 followers and they have reached an international audience. Notably, the majority of their subscribers are between the ages of 25 and 34, which is the age of the vast majority of medical students and radiology residents.
During the 2020 National Residency Match Program (NRMP) application cycle, Johnson and colleagues found that radiology residency programs were most active on Instagram (58.9%) compared to Twitter (29.3%). ) or Facebook (29.55%).5 Given this interest and level of engagement, the use of image-based platforms to reach medical students interested in radiology, residents, and the general public should be pursued.
While Instagram is primarily suitable for posting images and videos, TikTok’s content form is exclusively video. TikTok is the latest addition to the suite of social media platforms and has seemed to be gaining a large number of platform users throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. TikTok’s primary use case is not for education, but neither were Twitter or Facebook in their initial development. The novelty of TikTok is an opportunity for the field of radiology to find a place in the social media environment of the 2020s and generate both educational and creative radiology content that can be widely distributed.
Similar to Instagram and Twitter, TikTok content is received by “followers” of an account. However, unlike any other social media platform, TikTok users frequently spend time on the app on its “For You” page, a curated, never-ending series of posts displaying personalized content. Thus, TikTok can allow radiology content to be shared without limits, thereby increasing interest and engagement with the field.
The diversification of platforms on which case studies, articles and other learning materials are shared should be encouraged as our understanding and use of new modalities matures. Ultimately, social media 2.0 offers engaging platforms that can serve as additional means to promote the field of radiology.
Benefits of Adopting a New Social Media Strategy
The opportunity for a stronger radiology presence on social media is clear, and the field is ideally situated to incorporate image-rich platforms into the education of trainees and medical students. As radiology residency programs look for ways to innovate their curricula, emerging platforms can be used to provide students with increased flexibility and convenience. Social media 2.0 can serve as a conduit through which residents and faculty can expose radiology and engage with medical students.
Active learning and peer interaction are key concepts that are integral to the use of social media in radiology medical education. By “following” radiology stories that use images and share relevant cases, learners seek out the material that offers the greatest value and a way to interact with other students or trainees as well as members of the body. professorial. This can ultimately foster collegiality at all levels of training.
It is important to note that these interactions are not limited to people within an institution or specialty, as social media can expand opportunities for networking and collaboration. Additionally, unlike in-person lectures at any institution, these radiology messages and threads remain visible to current and future students and physicians internationally, dissolving geographic boundaries.
Finally, social media 2.0 is live and responsive to immediate trends, and image-rich platforms enable real-time sharing and discussion of radiology innovation and compelling information. Social media 2.0 is already in its infancy. With sufficient investment, radiologists can seize this time to increase awareness in the field, improve collaboration and engagement, and increase medical education for trainees and students more effectively than ever before.
1. Jaffe RC, O’Glasser AY, Brooks M, Chapman M, Breu AC, Wray CM. Your @Attending Will #Tweet You Now: Using Twitter in Medical Education. AcadMed. 2020;95(10):1618. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000003314. PMID: 32195691.
2. Bergl PA, Narang A, Arora VM. Maintain a Twitter feed to further the educational mission of an internal medicine residency program. JMIR Med Educ. 2015;1(2):e5. doi:10.2196/mededu.4434
3. Kauffman L, Weisberg EM, Zember WF, Fishman EK. #RadEd: how and why to use Twitter for online radiology education. Curr Probl Diagn Radiol. 2021 May-June;50(3):369-373.
4. Shafer S, Johnson MB, Thomas RB, Johnson PT, Fishman EK. Instagram for Education: What Radiology Educators Need to Know. Acad Radiol. 2018;25(6):819-822.
5. Johnson JL, Bhatia N, West DL, Safdar NM. Leverage social media and web presence to discuss and promote diversity, equity and inclusion in radiology. J Am Coll Radiol. 2022;19(1 Pt B):207-212.