Many of you are asked to take a leadership role in leading a team, whether it’s for research, administration, or even clinical. It is easy to feel unprepared for these roles, and there are many pitfalls waiting to sabotage your team’s productivity. The ALiEM Faculty Incubator has created a series of 10 case-based teaming problems to provide you with evidence-based advice and solutions for tackling some of the more common problems encountered in our professional team experiences. This case provide strategies for addressing some of the common social media fears among faculty.

Case 6

You are trying to grow your program’s social media presence, but most of the faculty feel it’s unnecessary and are uncomfortable with Twitter. What are some strategies you could use to help improve your faculty’s social media use?

Raise your hand if you’ve experienced a scenario like this:

You are walking into the ED while reading a tweet from @ALiEMTeam. One of your senior colleagues passes by and you decide to share it with him.

You: Hi Mark, have you seen the latest post from ALiEM? It’s a cool trick on how to remove a fish hook! I remember you doing something similar to a patient the other day, you should retweet it!

Mark: I don’t have the time to use Twitter with everything else on my plate.

You: In the beginning I felt that way too, until I started to set time boundaries when I am on Twitter. Plus, I tend to check on new tweets while doing other online tasks, like when I read my email.

Mark: <gives you a half shoulder shrug and walks away>

Problem #1: Faculty feel social media presence is unnecessary

Issue RaisedPossible Solution
I don’t understand the power of social media.1You explain that that use of social media reduces knowledge-translation time by facilitating easy dissemination of key research articles, allowing faculty to stay up to date with the latest literature. It also enhances program networking.2 Recently, learners are on MedEd 2.0; we need to go where the learners are.
I am not aware of the digital footprint or the impact of social media on our program.By having your own residency Twitter account, it will allow you to share residency content with a very large audience, reaching professionals and potential future residency applicants outside of your own program. Sharing via hashtags is a great way to reach a specific target audience outside of your program. Live tweeting during a local or national conference is a great way to increase conference attendee engagement.3
I have concerns about the quality of content.There are ways to evaluate the quality of social media content such as peer-reviewed social media content, i.e., ALiEM, CanadiEM, NUEM Blog, or quality checklists, i.e., ALiEM AIR Score.4
How is this “real” scholarly work?5By highlighting the various opportunities to collaborate on projects, speaking invitations to conferences, and in some institutions, it counts for academic promotion, e.g., Mayo Clinic.6

By highlighting the various opportunities to collaborate on projects, speaking invitations to conferences, and in some institutions, it counts for academic promotion, e.g., Mayo Clinic.6

Problem #2: Faculty are uncomfortable with Twitter

Issue RaisedPossible Solution
I am worried about possible damage to my professional and personal image, will I still appear professional?7There are policies in place for professionalism to guide users on Twitter with strategies such as not using patients’ real information and staying compliant with HIPAA rules, as well as applying disclaimers on your Twitter bio stating that your tweets are not to be used as medical advice.8

Such strategies and more can be found on the AMA9, CORD10, and Mayo Clinic11 websites.

I don’t know how to use Twitter!Provide formal faculty training on Twitter usage to meet their institutional needs. Formal strategies are available through various institutions, including Social Media Basics for Healthcare Certificate (Mayo Clinic)12 and Social Media residency (Mayo Clinic).13

By highlighting the various opportunities to collaborate on projects, speaking invitations to conferences, and in some institutions, it counts for academic promotion, e.g., Mayo Clinic.6

Case Conclusion

After identifying the top barriers faced by your colleagues, you agree to put together a short workshop to help get everyone started. As part of this, everyone sets up their Twitter account and sends out their first tweet. You put together a list of online (and print) resources that faculty can access to guide their burgeoning social media presence.



Kirkup G. Academic blogging: academic practice and academic identity. London Review of Education. 2010;8(1):75-84. doi:10.1080/14748460903557803
The Use of Social Media for Knowledge Translation. Alberta Health Services. Published June 2018. Accessed September 12, 2018.
Melvin L, Chan T. Using Twitter in Clinical Education and Practice. J Grad Med Educ. 2014;6(3):581-582. [PubMed]
Colmers IN, Paterson QS, Lin M, et al. The quality checklists for medical education blogs and podcasts. The Winnower. doi:10.15200/winn.144720.08769
Cabrera D. Mayo Clinic includes Social Media Scholarship Activities in Academic Advancement. Published May 25, 2016. Accessed September 12, 2018.
Veletsianos G, Kimmons R, French KD. Instructor experiences with a social networking site in a higher education setting: expectations, frustrations, appropriation, and compartmentalization. Education Tech Research Dev. 2013;61(2):255-278. doi:10.1007/s11423-012-9284-z
Forgie SE, Duff JP, Ross S. Twelve tips for using Twitter as a learning tool in medical education. Medical Teacher. 2012;35(1):8-14. doi:10.3109/0142159x.2012.746448
Pillow M, Hopson L, Bond M, et al. Social media guidelines and best practices: recommendations from the Council of Residency Directors Social Media Task Force. West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(1):26-30. [PubMed]
Leibtag A. A 12-Word Social Media Policy. Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. Published May 5, 2012. Accessed September 12, 2018.
Social for Healthcare Certificate from Mayo Clinic and Hootsuite. Published 2015. Accessed September 12, 2018.
Social Media Residency. Published 2018. Accessed September 12, 2018.
Layla Abubshait, MD

Layla Abubshait, MD

Associate Program Director
Department of Emergency Medicine
Einstein Medical Center Montgomery
Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine
Sidney Kimmel Medical College
Thomas Jeffersion University
Layla Abubshait, MD

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Manu Ayyan, MD

Assistant Professor Emergency Medicine
Department Of Emergency Medicine
Government Medical College, Kannur, Kerala, India

Nilantha Lenora, MD, MPH

Attending Physician & Senior Advisor
Adventist HealthCare, Shady Grove Medical Center
Sri Lanka Society for Critical Care and Emergency Medicine
Colombo, Sri Lanka

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