ABSTRACT: ‘Uncrunching’ time: medical schools’ use of social media for faculty development.
Purpose: The difficulty of attracting attendance for in-person events is a problem common to all faculty development efforts. Social media holds the potential to disseminate information asynchronously while building a community through quick, easy-to-use formats. The authors sought to document creative uses of social media for faculty development in academic medical centers. Method: In December 2011, the first author (P.S.C.) examined the websites of all 154 accredited medical schools in the United States and Canada for pages relevant to faculty development. The most popular social media sites and searched for accounts maintained by faculty developers in academic medicine were also visited. Several months later, in February 2012, a second investigator (C.W.S.) validated these data via an independent review. Results: Twenty-two (22) medical schools (14.3%) employed at least one social media technology in support of faculty development. In total, 40 instances of social media tools were identified – the most popular platforms being Facebook (nine institutions), Twitter (eight institutions), and blogs (eight institutions). Four medical schools, in particular, have developed integrated strategies to engage faculty in online communities. Conclusions: Although relatively few medical schools have embraced social media to promote faculty development, the present range of such uses demonstrates the flexibility and affordability of the tools. The most popular tools incorporate well into faculty members’ existing use of technology and require minimal additional effort. Additional research into the benefits of engaging faculty through social media may help overcome hesitation to invest in new technologies.