Quarterly scientific journal

Online professionalism and the impact of social media on the practice of medicine

Symeon Naoum

Abstract

The rise of social media created by Internet users and hosted by popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Wikipedia, and blogs - has brought several new risks to medical professionalism. First, many doctors may find it fascinating, in specific contexts, to apply principles of medical professionalism to the internet environment. Secondly, doctors may not consider the possible impact of their online content on their patients and the public. Thirdly, an instant lag in the judgment of an individual doctor to create non-professional online content may inappropriately reflect the entire profession. To overcome these challenges, individual doctors are encouraged to realize that as they "walk" through the Web, they leave behind a "footprint" that can have undesirable negative consequences for them and the profession in general. It also recommends that institutions adopt an active approach to attracting social media users to establish consensus standards for the 'internet professional'. Finally, since professionalism involves more than avoiding negative behaviors, examples of more positive applications for this technology are presented. Like a mirror, social media can reflect the best and worst aspects of the content that has been put before it so that everyone can see it.

Keywords: Professionalism, internet use, medical ethics, health policy

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