Medical Students / JMOsNews / Opinion

eMJA: Social media and the medical profession (Viewpoint)

The MJA has a published a viewpoint article discussing the growing risk of social media usage among doctors and medical students and emphasises the increaing need to maintain a professional online persona when using social media.


  • Use of social media by doctors and medical students is common and growing.
  • Although professional standards and codes of ethics that govern the behaviour of medical practitioners in Australia and New Zealand do not currently encompass social media, these codes need to evolve, because professional standards continue to apply in this setting.
  • Inappropriate use of social media can result in harm to patients and the profession, including breaches of confidentiality, defamation of colleagues or employers, and violation of doctor–patient boundaries.
  • The professional integrity of doctors and medical students can also be damaged through problematic interprofessional online relationships, and unintended exposure of personal information to the public, employers or universities.
  • Doctors need to exercise extreme care in their use of social media to ensure they maintain professional standards.

Read the full article here.

Hospital administration intermittently send out emails about the appropriate use of social media. To date, I've never read an email that reads as though it was written by someone with <span style="font-style:italic;">any</span> practical experience in the matter - they read more like a lecture about sex given by a virgin. :p Suffice to say, insight into the matter is invariably lacking, and therefore the advice dispensed is often unhelpful.
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That reminds me of an episode of Family Guy actually...
    The best thing I have learnt is to keep people who I work with off my facebook. <br />
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    I don't think its wrong to go home to friends and family and bitch about a bad day. I think its quite healthy. Especially as the days get longer and amusing updates about your life revolve around hospital life. Its just that it has to stay behind closed doors. <br />
    <br />
    Sometimes I do think that people blow the social media and medicine out of proportion though. Social media is used in pretty much every other industry. Many patients want to see it more in medicine. I think absolute rejection of social media is a silly idea. Furthermore a no. of health departments are setting up own forms of social media to allow staff, doctors and researchers see what's going on.<br />
    <br />
    I also admire to use of blogging by a no. of influential medicos about medicine. I think its a great advancement.