The CME community is late to adopt social media

To my friends and colleagues in the CME community, I ask of you today a simple favor: involve yourself in social media.

Immerse yourself in social media. Do what it takes to make social media a part of your, and your place of employment’s, daily routine.

Do it.

If you don’t know how to do it, find someone who does, and get them to show you how. Then get them to show you how, again. And again. Try it, get frustrated, and keep doing it.

Sign up for Facebook and maintain an account, even if it’s only a personal one. Update your Linkedin profile. Leave a comment in a discussion on the CME or Alliance for CME group. Get on Twitter. Follow people. Follow me. Tweet. Retweet. Ask questions. Respond to questions. Lurk on #CMEchat, then join in. Learn. Teach.

Find a blog you like and follow it. Leave comments. Start your own blog and share your opinions. Make somebody mad. Go to YouTube and search for “Seattle Mama Doc”. Aspire to do something similar. But please don’t ignore social media.

The CME community has a tradition of being late adopters; we would be foolish to do that this time around. We’re already behind.

What I’m saying is nothing new. Back in February, Tom Sullivan – with extensive quoting from Brian McGowan – wrote a piece on about “Why the CME community is lacking in its use of social media”.

In the article, Brian identifies 3 principles that demonstrate the impact social media could have on the CME community:

  1. Social media will support CME activities, initiatives, and healthcare professional learning
  2. Using social media will support the career development of CME professionals
  3. Social media will amplify the voice of CME advocacy

I see the potential for a fourth principle: learning to understand and use social media will put CME professionals in a position to educate physician and other HCP learners.

Why not?

Exhibit A: the recent incident in which a Rhode Island physician was officially reprimanded and fined by the state board for revealing patient info (though not the name) on Facebook. Read the fascinating opinions on the matter from Bryan Vartabedian and on

As Dr. V points out, expect more of these types of incidents. But maybe we, the CME community, can do something to keep these incidents to a minimum. Maybe we’re the ones who can put together a grand rounds session for the local community hospital where we say “Hey, if you’re thinking of talking about a case on Facebook or Twitter, here are a few things you might want to avoid.” These personal, near-to-the-moment case examples shared on a social medium can be a powerful learning experience and it would be a shame to see them stifled due to ignorance of that medium. So let’s teach them.

But first, we need to teach ourselves. Time to get started.

Derek Warnick is a CME Director who blogs at Confessions of a Medical Educator.


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