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Using Twitter in Health Professional Education: A Case Study

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PURPOSE: The vast majority of health care students, providers, and organizations utilize social media to access and share information. However, there is little research exploring integration of social media into health professional education. This case study describes how the social media site Twitter was used in a first-year physical therapy professionalism course to teach, support, and model professional online communication. METHODS: Twitter was used for discussion and sharing among 36 doctor of physical therapy (DPT) students enrolled in a first-year professionalism course. Participants completed four Twitter assignments. Outcome measures included student surveys of overall social media use, perceptions of Twitter use in the course, Twitter use during the course, and student engagement measured using a subset of questions from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). OUTCOMES: During the course, students posted a total of 337 tweets (mean 9.36 tweets/student). Pre- and post-course surveys showed an increase in academic and professional social media use. Perception of Twitter use in the course was generally positive. There was a small increase in mean NSSE score that was not statistically significant. DISCUSSION: Using Twitter in a physical therapy professionalism course was a positive experience for students and was associated with increased academic and professional social media use. Future studies are needed to determine whether deliberate teaching of social media as a professional technology competency will result in meaningful increases in professional online engagement and improved digital professionalism in health professional students and providers.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 March 2015

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  • The Journal of Allied Health is the official publication of the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions (ASAHP). The Journal is the only interdisciplinary allied health periodical, publishing scholarly works related to research and development, feature articles, research abstracts and book reviews. Readers of the Journal comprise allied health leaders, educators, faculty and students.
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