De nieuwsbrief

Online and offline worlds merge at AMEE 2014

Salmaan Sana discusses the rise of social media at #AMEE2014 and suggests that in the long run social media can both facilitate new relationships and save you time.

Online and social media helpdesk at the medical conference AMEE 2014 (#AMEE2014) in MiCo, Milan, Italy

Online and social media helpdesk at the medical conference AMEE 2014 (#AMEE2014) in MiCo, Milan, Italy

My story starts in 2005 when I was a medical student in Amsterdam where a group of us setup the AMEE student task force with more students than had ever been involved during an AMEE conference. This event was without exaggeration life changing. It was the first time that I was exposed to the world of medical education on such a global scale, and like many who have this experience, I was hooked from that moment onwards.

Some years later, I remained active supporting the AMEE staff and at the conference in Glasgow in 2009, we created the Twitter account, the Facebook Fanpage and Linkedin group. And today, almost 5 years later, the impact of the creation of this online world can be clearly seen as it  co-exists next to the “offline” world at the conference.

AMEE is active on multiple social media channels

Currently, AMEE has an active Twitter account, a Facebook fan page and a Linkedin Company Page. At the conference in Milan, AMEE started to become more active on Instagram, uploading our pictures on Flickr, sharing via Google+ and getting our Youtube Channel up and running. We also uploaded pictures onto Facebook albums as well as creating a Storify everyday for those that like to look back at the day and reflect on what took place online during the conference.

But why go online? I think I can confidently say, without sounding too “Generation Y” that this world is changing and interconnecting in ways we have not seen before. And I believe there is so much potential to be untapped from bringing people together from all over the world via different online mediums. More than anything I believe it to be the manner of bridging the offline and online world. It is a new way of storytelling and sharing a little of who we are, what our interests are and, what we are passionate about, and perhaps more importantly, what we believe in. In the medical education context it can be used to connect with individuals that are like minded/spirited whom you can get to know, learn from and who knows, perhaps collaborate with.

I remember when I started using Social Media, it was 2004, and the platform was ‘friendster’. After that there was ‘Hi5’ and in 2006, for the first time, I setup a Facebook account and the rest is pretty much history. As Facebook brought me together with all my friends, teams and international contacts, I believe it was Twitter that really showed me how easy it was to share ones status and link with someone, no matter who they were. This form of communication both intrigued and fascinated me as it is, by nature, very open and transparent.

Where to start with using social media as a healthcare professional?

Where to start with social media as a medical or healthcare professional? Close-up of delegate with iPhone in hand being helped at AMEE 2014's social media helpdesk #AMEE2014

At AMEE 2014’s social media helpdesk the staff was able to support many delegates with questions related to using social media.

A relatively “simple” way to start is by using Linkedin since the majority of professionals have a Linkedin account which they use for CV building, connecting with others after meetings and conferences, and keeping in touch with those that resonate with each other. However at the conference itself, the medium that I believe is has the heaviest traffic is Twitter. Those that know a little about Twitter know that if you were following the hashtag #AMEE2014 during the conference, you would find an entire world of people who are communicating with each other, sharing insights, observations, and learnings and finally having the opportunity get to meet those they have been tweeting with IRL (In Real Life). What I’ve noticed is that there is a general deep need for delegates of a conference for conversation, a need for space(s) where one can chat about the things that they are interested in and ask questions openly (even critically) without the feeling that someone is ‘disrupting’ a session.

Please check if you would like to have an idea of what was posted online.

Social media are tailored to your individual needs

What I find most profound about the online world is that it is not something that everyone needs to get involved in one specified shape or form. It is open to adapt to the needs of an individual and organisation. You don’t need to start on all the platforms at the same time, just start with one and build from there. Here’s a statement for discussion: once you’ve got the basics of social media understood, it actually saves you time in the work you do… do you believe that?

(This post was previously published on MedEdWorld)