Social Media Guidelines and Best Practices

Recommendations From the Council of Residency Directors Social Media Task Force

Malford T. Pillow, MD, Med; Laura Hopson, MD; Michael Bond, MD; Daniel Cabrera, MD; Leigh Patterson, MD; David Pearson, MD; Harsh Sule, MD, MPP; Felix Ankel, MD; Madonna Fernández-Frackelton, MD; Ronald V. Hall, MD; Jason A. Kegg, MD; Donald Norris; Katrin Takenaka


Western J Emerg Med. 2014;15(1):26-30. 

In This Article


Several hundred EM residency directors and other academic faculty members attended a lecture on the issues of social media in resident selection at the March 2011 CORD Academic Assembly. Following that session, a Social Media Task Force was assembled consisting of 14 geographically diverse educational leaders. The group met regularly over the next 14 months to review available literature and policies.

Policies from the institutions represented on the task force were reviewed when they existed (including Mayo Clinic,[25] Regions Hospital,[26] University of Michigan,[27] Baylor University,[28] Eastern Carolina University,[29] and Carolinas Medical Center[30]). In addition, policies from national organizations were obtained and reviewed including those from Society of Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM),[31] American Medical Association (AMA),[32] and Indiana State Bar Association (ISBA).[33] A literature search was performed for additional resources using search terms of social media, education, graduate medical education and professionalism.

There was considerable variation among these institutions as to the presence and content of a social media policy. While many universities and professional organizations had social media policies designed to restrict employee activity to protect the institution, few if any encouraged social media use. None addressed the unique needs of residents and residency leadership. Much of the literature reports residents unintentionally or unknowingly violating institutional policies and suffering professional consequences.

After review of the literature and existing institutional and organizational guidelines, the task force developed a graduate medial education (GME)-specific set of recommendations. These were then independently reviewed by Tobi Tanzer, J.D., vice president of integrity and compliance for Health Partners- Regions Hospital. The guidelines were then submitted to the CORD Board of Directors for review and endorsement.