In Medical Fields

        A dominant use of Twitter in the university appears to be connected with the sciences. Nursing, pharmacy, science classes, and medical professionals utilize Twitter as a way of communicating and to create a sense of community.

        Tim Bristol cites ideas for utilizing Twitter in the classroom for nursing education students. Although tweeting comments during class and improving relationships are cited as ways to use the social networking site, Bristol also cites unique ways nursing students can use it, both while in school and after they start their careers: communicating during disasters, a way to share stories and offer best practices, and creating a community, like during a residency program. The notion of shared stories is also found at The Journal of Nursing Jocularity’s account (@funnynurse), which shares humorous stories from the field. Although the effectiveness of Twitter accounts like these are hard to measure, the laughing nurse has created a community with over 3,400 followers.

       Cyndy Kryder suggests that medical communicators can use Twitter for everything from reaching prospective clients to improving their writing skills. And although her audience is not students, she recommends using Twitter as a heuristic, a way to teach and update followers on new information in the field.

       Gina Thames, a pharmacology faculty member at the UTA School of Nursing, uses Twitter as a classroom tool to help students grasp what sources and information are considered credible. Thames claims nursing students can stay current with practices and news related to pharmacology by utilizing Twitter. This is much like Vern Duba (@VernDuba), assistant professor of clinical and administrative pharmacy at the University of Iowa, who posts links to articles that help his followers stay up-to-date on drug information and health related topics.

       The discussion of social media in medical fields also extends internationally. Jan Odom-Forren describes a session at the International Academy of Nursing Editors conference in Australia that focused on social and electronic media. Stating that nurses adapt technologies that are efficient, accurate, and immediate, Odom-Forren suggests technophobe nurses should have open minds about new developments in order to better serve their patients.

       It is clear the healthcare professions are devising ways to benefit from communication via Twitter. It is not clear, however, if this enthusiasm transfers to other majors and professions. Perhaps it is the active and constant learning necessary to stay ahead in healthcare fields that makes Twitter such a unique venue for communication; the overload of information is given in 140-bursts that followers can attempt to absorb or choose to ignore.