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Int J Med Educ. 2019 Jan 29;10:23-28. doi: 10.5116/ijme.5c14.ef82.

Assessing the use of social media in physician assistant education.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Christiana Care Health System, Newark, USA.
Department of Emergency Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA.
Department of Emergency Medicine, Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, USA.



This study aims to assess physician assistant (PA) students' experiences with social media (SM) as a part of their medical education.


The study is split into two phases: Phase 1- A cross-sectional survey emailed to all PA students at four PA school campuses to assess students' prior SM experiences (226 responses, 71.1% response rate); and Phase 2- Inclusion of SM educational resources, via Twitter, within lectures performed at two PA schools. A phase-2 survey assessed students' opinions of educational SM (50 responses, 59.5% response rate) and SM usage was tracked.


The phase-1 survey respondents indicated that 97.3% (n=220) use social media; often used as a part of their education, 65% (n=147) informally and 2.7% (n=6) formally incorporated. Students most commonly use Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, but rarely use Twitter. Currently using SM for medical education was significantly associated with predicting that future PA education will formally include SM [rs=.341 (r2=0.12), p=<.001], as did younger age, [rs=.137 (r2=0.02), p=0.042]. Of phase-2 survey respondents, 93.1% (27/29) of SM users felt it was a useful addition to the lectures. Significantly more views were captured when messages were sent during lectures Mean (SD), 102.64(39.7) than in the peri-lecture time period [49.5(10.6), p<0.001].


 Many PA students are currently using various forms of social media to augment their education. Most PA students support formal incorporation of social media into their education.  PA educators should consider using our data and methods of social media inclusion when designing curricula and while clinically precepting PA students.


education; medical education; physician assistant; social media; technology

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