Recommendations From the Council of Residency Directors (CORD) Social Media Committee on the Role of Social Media in Residency Education and Strategies on Implementation

David Pearson, MD, MS; Robert Cooney, MD, FACEP; Michael C. Bond, MD


Western J Emerg Med. 2015;16(4):510-515. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Social media (SM) is a form of electronic communication through which users create online communities and interactive platforms to exchange information, ideas, messages, podcasts, videos, and other user-generated content. Emergency medicine (EM) has embraced the healthcare applications of SM at a rapid pace and continues to explore the potential benefit for education. Free Open Access Meducation has emerged from the ever-expanding collection of SM interactions and now represents a virtual platform for sharing educational media. This guidance document constitutes an expert consensus opinion for best practices in the use of SM in EM residency education. The goals are the following: 1) Recommend adoption of SM as a valuable graduate medical education (GME) tool, 2) Provide advocacy and support for SM as a GME tool, and 3) Recommend best practices of educational deliverables using SM. These guidelines are intended for EM educators and residency programs for the development and use of a program-specific SM presence for residency education, taking into account appropriate SM stewardship that adheres to institution-specific guidelines, content management, Accreditation Council for GME milestone requirements, and integration of SM in EM residency curriculum to enhance the learner's experience. Additionally, potential obstacles to the uptake of SM as an educational modality are discussed with proposed solutions.


Social media (SM) is a form of digital communication through which users create online communities using interactive platforms to exchange information, ideas, messages, podcasts, videos, and many other types of user-generated content. Emergency medicine (EM) has embraced the healthcare applications of SM at a rapid pace and continues to explore the potential benefit for knowledge translation, content management and education.[1–5] The Free Open Access Meducation (FOAM) movement has emerged as a worldwide digital community of learning and practice, harnessing the ever-expanding collection of SM-based content and functioning as a virtual platform for the dissemination of knowledge and education.[6]

SM use by EM residencies continues to grow rapidly with a near ubiquity in its use.[7–8] Opportunities now exist to enhance the current EM curriculum both with traditional learning sessions such as didactics or simulation, or with asynchronous learning.[9] Learners are engaging with social-networking sites for educational purposes, and learner satisfaction is typically high with this modality.[10–12] SM allows learners to interact and collaborate with content generators outside the confines of physical space and time. Learners report that SM provides the opportunity for peer collaboration, enhanced communication, and complementary learning.[13–17] Users of SM for education report a strong desire to use it but also a strong desire to maintain privacy, specifically between their personal and professional lives. At present, there remains a chasm between educators and residents on how to most effectively integrate and implement SM in their EM curriculum.

SM is not an essential modality for residency education; however, it has distinctive advantages for augmentation of residency curricula. SM helps generate discussion across institutions, allows for rapid, near-real-time peer review and exchange of ideas, increases the audience of a lecture or teaching curriculum, and can provide detailed analytics of viewership including information on the viewers' location and time spent on the activity. Further, SM has helped numerous individuals advance their academic careers with additional academic opportunities (e.g. lecture opportunities, research projects, publications). SM also aligns with adult learning models of providing educational resources when and where the student is ready to learn. Finally, SM can decrease the time to knowledge translation as articles are often debated and discussed even before they reach the official print journal. Potential disadvantages to implementation of SM is over-reliance by learners over conventional educational modalities (e.g. textbooks, manuscripts), technological barriers decreasing widespread use, potential inaccuracies of posted content, and potential legal or professional risks associated with posting private health information or inappropriate content. With SM in education ever expanding, continuing to assess these advantages and disadvantages plays an important role in effective use of SM in medical education.

According to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), "milestones are knowledge, skills, and other attributes for each of the ACGME competencies organized in a developmental framework from less to more advanced."[18–19] SM is another modality to achieve milestones-based competency, ranging from professionalism to medical knowledge and proper use of SM may be viewed as another "entrustable professional activity."[20]

The goals of this guideline statement are to focus on SM as a tool for residency education. These guidelines are designed to provide support for EM residency programs in the development and use of program-specific SM presence for residency education. They are designed to complement and do not supersede any institutional guidelines or local, state or federal laws. The SM guidelines outlined in this paper constitute an expert consensus opinion, from a group of current program directors, educators and SM contributors, for best practices of the use of SM in EM residency education. The scope of this document is to function as a foundation document for further development of more detailed content and location-specific guidelines and best practices.