Despite the growing presence of social media in graduate medical education (GME), few studies have attempted to characterize their effect on residents and their training. The authors conducted a systematic review of the peer-reviewed literature to understand the effect of social media on resident (1) education, (2) recruitment, and (3) professionalism.Method
The authors identified English-language peer-reviewed articles published through November 2015 using Medline, Embase, Cochrane, PubMed, Scopus, and ERIC. They extracted and synthesized data from articles that met inclusion criteria. They assessed study quality for quantitative and qualitative studies through, respectively, the Medical Education Research Study Quality Instrument and the Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Studies.Results
Twenty-nine studies met inclusion criteria. Thirteen (44.8%) pertained to residency education. Twitter, podcasts, and blogs were frequently used to engage learners and enhance education. YouTube and wikis were more commonly used to teach technical skills and promote self-efficacy. Six studies (20.7%) pertained to the recruitment process; these suggest that GME programs are transitioning information to social media to attract applicants. Ten studies (34.5%) pertained to resident professionalism. Most were exploratory, highlighting patient and resident privacy, particularly with respect to Facebook. Four of these studies surveyed residents about their social network behavior with respect to their patients, while the rest explored how program directors use it to monitor residents’ unprofessional online behavior.Conclusions
The effect of social media platforms on residency education, recruitment, and professionalism is mixed, and the quality of existing studies is modest at best.