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Med Teach. 2011;33(8):e429-34. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2011.586749.

Use of social media in graduate-level medical humanities education: two pilot studies from Penn State College of Medicine.

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  • 1Department of Humanities, Penn State Hershey College of Medicine, 500 University Drive, Hershey, PA 17033, USA.



Social media strategies in education have gained attention for undergraduate students, but there has been relatively little application with graduate populations in medicine.


To use and evaluate the integration of new social media tools into the curricula of two graduate-level medical humanities electives offered to 4th-year students at Penn State College of Medicine.


Instructors selected five social media tools--Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, blogging and Skype--to promote student learning. At the conclusion of each course, students provided quantitative and qualitative course evaluation.


Students gave high favourability ratings to both courses, and expressed that the integration of social media into coursework augmented learning and collaboration. Others identified challenges including: demands on time, concerns about privacy and lack of facility with technology. Integrating social media tools into class activities appeared to offer manifold benefits over traditional classroom methods, including real-time communication outside of the classroom, connecting with medical experts, collaborative opportunities and enhanced creativity.


Social media can augment learning opportunities within humanities curriculum in medical schools, and help students acquire tools and skill-sets for problem solving, networking, and collaboration. Command of technologies will be increasingly important to the practice of medicine in the twenty-first century.

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