Infectious Disease

The pandemic highlights social media opportunities for new forms of medical education

March 19, 2021

3 min read

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Pot J. Social media during a pandemic. Presented at: RPA Annual Meeting. 18.-20. March 2021 (virtual meeting).

Disclosure:
Topf reports having a stake in DaVita dialysis clinics; Participation in advisory boards for AstraZeneca, Bayer, Cara Therapeutics and Tricisda; and be the president of NephJC.

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A speaker at the Renal Physicians Association’s virtual meeting spoke about how the COVID-19 pandemic has expanded the use of social media, particularly with regard to innovative forms of medical education.

Joel pot, MD, FACP, The assistant clinical professor at Oakland University’s William Beaumont School of Medicine marks March 11, 2020 as the date the pandemic became a reality for everyone in the United States.

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“You were starting to realize that this wasn’t just an infection that you saw on the news,” he told the audience. “That meant that traditional medical training came to a standstill.”

He explained how at his hospital all medical students were sent home due to social distancing restrictions and a lack of personal protective equipment. This was a crucial change in medical education as both lectures and bedside lessons were no longer taking place.

“I think the COVID-19 pandemic is the toughest medical education problem we have ever faced,” he said. “First, it’s a massive global problem. Second, how do we teach about it when we don’t even know the truth? We are starting from scratch and trying to find out about this virus. Third, it is very political and makes what you say very charged. “

In addition, Topf emphasized the immediacy of the need to build a solid knowledge base and share that knowledge.

Peer review

“We didn’t have the luxury of taking three or four months to work out a curriculum. We had to find solutions on the fly, ”he said, adding that while there were experts in respiratory infections or epidemiology, no one had any expertise specifically related to COVID-19. It has therefore become a challenge to build up medical knowledge that traditionally takes place via the manuscript system and peer review. New modes had to be created for peer-reviewed articles.

According to Topf, the peer review process was challenging because the process of publishing journals typically takes around three months from submission to publication. Education needs to be spread faster, he argued.

While praising publications such as the American Society of Nephrology’s Clinical Journal for speeding up the process, he cited two examples that illustrated the spread of misinformation during the pandemic.

The first was a paper published in The Lancet, which used data collected by Surgisphere (reportedly from 671 hospitals on six continents); It concluded that hydroxychloroquine may increase the risk of mortality in patients with COVID-19 and resulted in several clinical trials of the drug being canceled or suspended. The second paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine also used data from the Surgisphere and referred to the “harmful” impact of angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) on COVID-19 -Results.

“It was all fiction,” said Topf. “None of that existed. [The company] was able to convince some key people in some key areas and had some publications printed. “

Topf discussed the way people joined together on comments and blogs to evaluate the data, then asked what had been published. With a new form of assessment, social media played a central role in the withdrawal of the articles.

“This was a crisis,” he said. “The Lancet was essentially publishing fraud. This is just one example of peer review blogging. It’s fast, collaborative, and viral. People used the comments section on a really obscure blog to bring down The Lancet. “

He said that while some might disapprove of the credibility or influence of this method because it was made through comments on a blog, it misses the point.

“This was a group of people who trusted and worked together,” he said. “And we see that everywhere. Whether it’s NephJC, NephMadness, or some other small group of people working and working together, we can do many positive things. “

Free medical education with open access

Similarly, readers formed a community and network on NephJC in response to the article on antihypertensive drugs. Two experts examined and wrote a document that became a “viral sensation” on the blog. NephJC’s monthly page views increased tenfold, according to Topf, after the document criticizing the study was made available.

Despite the challenges posed by the traditional medical education pandemic and peer-reviewed process, Topf argued that social media education and free open access medical education (known as FOAMed) “never missed a blow “.

“During the darkest hour of medical education, social media answered the call,” he concluded. “We got out of an area where we lost our ability to teach traditionally and we peer-reviewed it after publication. In this great crisis in medical education, FOAMed showed creativity, flexibility and ingenuity. The solutions borne by COVID-19 will outlast the pandemic and transform medical education forever. “

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Annual meeting of the Renal Physicians Association

Annual meeting of the Renal Physicians Association

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