Lettre du DPCPublié le 29 octobre 2018

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of Dr. Alireza Jalali and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of the CMPA.

While individual physicians are at different stages in their use of social media, it is a journey virtually all physicians will eventually take. Social media has become so pervasive, its importance as a channel to keep current on medical developments and to confer with colleagues is undeniable.

While social media can offer value by contributing to beneficial exchanges of information, it is important to establish safeguards to ensure that patients’ personal health information remains private and confidential.

In a recent conversation with the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA), educator, researcher, and social media advisor Dr. Alireza (Ali) Jalali described the process he employs in using social media for his own continuing professional development (CPD). Dr Ali Jalali is Head of the Division of Clinical Functional Anatomy, Department of Innovation in Medical Education at the University of Ottawa.

Q: In your opinion, are some online platforms more effective than others for continuing professional development?

A: I use Twitter a great deal, because hashtags allow you to follow subjects.[i] Whether it’s people or conferences that interest me, I use Twitter a lot. The other platform that comes to mind is Instagram. What I like about Instagram is that it permits you to post or watch short videos.


Q: As an educator, what tools or resources do you like to use to gather your information and help you in your continued learning?

A: There are so many different sources of information available that one needs to weed out the unreliable information or sources. I try to rely more on the author than the platform. I think that it is the best way to ensure the trustworthiness of information.

I do use Google Scholar[ii] often. I will sometimes use PubMed[iii] as well. I also use UpToDate[iv] and Figure1[v].


Q: Could you talk a little bit about the hashtag #FOAM or #FOAMED?

A: #FOAMED, which stands for Free Open Access Medical Education[vi], was created in 2012 to promote a collection of medical education tools for anyone, anywhere, anytime. Over the past last several years, there has been a change in direction whereas the public and patients are more involved in generating medical education content. The hashtag allows everyone to create open-access materials and share them online.


Q: What would be three important elements to consider for physicians who would like to enhance their CPD using social media but who are new at it?

A: What I suggest to people who are considering becoming active on social media is to use the “three Ds.”

  • Define: First, you have to define who the learner is. It could be you, or medical students, or residents. Then you have to define what your goals and objectives are. These answers will inform which social media platform you are going to use.
  • Develop: Here is where you develop your digital footprint* on the platform you are going to use. It could be Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or it could be your own podcast.
  • Disseminate: The last element is to network and disseminate your information. How you will go about it will depend on the chosen platform.

*A “digital footprint” is generally defined as a person’s online presence or one’s overall impression or impact made visible on the Internet, social media, and other online platforms.

The use of social media for CPD requires time, input, and energy, but can be extremely rewarding for all parties involved. The CMPA Good Practices Guide has good tips on how to develop your digital presence.


Dr. Alireza Jalali is the head of the Division of Clinical and Functional Anatomy, Department of Innovation in Medical Education, University of Ottawa. He has a medical doctorate and a specialist diploma in Sports Medicine from the University of Liège in Belgium. Since coming to the University of Ottawa in 2003, he has developed an active research program in the use of educational innovations: podcasts, YouTube, team-based learning, social media, and 3D printing. Dr. Jalali is social media advisor at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada


Additional reading



The information contained in this publication is for general educational purposes only and is not intended to provide specific professional medical or legal advice, or to constitute a “standard of care” for Canadian healthcare professionals. Your use of CMPA learning resources is subject to the foregoing as well as the complete disclaimer, which can be found at www.cmpa-acpm.ca; enter the site and go to “Terms of use“ at the bottom of the page.


[i] Jalali A, Sherbino J, Frank J, et al. Social media and medical education: Exploring the potential of Twitter as a learning tool. Int Rev Psychiatry [Internet]. 2015 April [cited 2018 June]; 27(2): 140-146. Available from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/09540261.2015.1015502, doi: 10.3109/09540261.2015.1015502

[ii] Google Scholar is a freely accessible web search engine that indexes the full text or metadata of scholarly literature across an array of publishing formats and disciplines. The Google Scholar index includes most peer-reviewed online academic journals and books, conference papers, theses and dissertations, preprints, abstracts, technical reports, and other scholarly literature, including court opinions and patents.

[iii] PubMed is a free search engine accessing primarily the MEDLINE database of references and abstracts on life sciences and biomedical topics.

[iv] UpToDate is a software system that is a point-of-care medical resource. The UpToDate system is marketed as an evidence-based clinical resource. It includes a collection of medical and patient information, access to Lexi-comp drug monographs and drug-to-drug, drug-to-herb and herb-to-herb interactions information, and a number of medical calculators. UpToDate is written by over 5,700 physician authors, editors and peer reviewers.

[v] Figure 1 connects healthcare professionals around the world to view, discuss, and share medical cases. It is used by a global community of millions of healthcare professionals.

[vi] The FOAMED community emerged from the collection of constantly evolving, collaborative and interactive open access medical education resources being distributed on the web. FOAM is independent of platform or media — it includes blogs, podcasts, tweets, Google hangouts, online videos, text documents, photographs, facebook groups, etc. #FOAMed is the Twitter hashtag associated with the Community.

< Revenir à l'actualité