Social media is not only a rich source of information, but premedical students can also use online platforms to create awareness about health issues.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, health information has constantly been disseminated through online channels. As a result, the public has become more aware of recommendations from policymakers as well as the importance of health practices like mask wearing. Scientific literature is also more consumable for the general population, as news outlets often write synopses of scientific research findings.
All this presents opportunities for premeds to leverage social media to expand their health care initiatives and other activities, which can strengthen their medical school applications.
“Premeds who are interested in outreach, public health, and communication to the public in general need to be aware of how to use these online channels,” says Dr. Nikita Joshi, emergency medicine medical director at Alameda Hospital in California. “And in order to most effectively use these channels, premeds must work to develop their own presence and voice on social media.”
Joshi, who is active on popular medical online platforms like “FeminEM” and “Academic Life in Emergency Medicine” and advises aspiring physicians, says her “main advice would be to recognize the power of your voice as a premed, and your expertise.”
Ways to Use Online Platforms to Advance Health Care
Premeds can share their voices and passions online about various health care topics. Online platforms — particularly LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter — also can help premeds connect with health care organizations and leaders.
Here are 10 ways premeds can advance health care ideas and initiatives via social media:
— Educate the public about health care issues and causes.
— Disseminate health information and scientific literature more quickly.
— Voice your opinion about health care issues.
— Advocate for specific patient populations.
— Showcase creative solutions to health care needs.
— Fundraise more easily.
— Publicize health care events and conferences.
— Find and create partnerships.
— Connect with like-minded individuals and leaders in the medical field.
— Engage with a broader audience.
Combining a Website and Social Media
Some premeds have successfully used some of these methods, For example, Sheila Noon used online channels to connect with others to help advocate for individuals with disabilities.
While a premed at University of California–Berkeley, Noon fostered her interest in pediatrics and learned more about disabilities by volunteering at a Down syndrome clinic for low-income families. Through her experiences, she saw the ways advocating for this population helped them reach their full potential, motivating her to found a nonprofit named Disability Care Network that mobilizes support and provides resources for individuals with disabilities.
Noon, whose bachelor’s degree is in both public health and molecular and cell biology, first designed a website for the network. “I believe creating a website created legitimacy within my organization and allowed people to obtain further information about the organization,” she says.
Noon then used the website to engage with other community and disability organizations. She also used social media platforms to garner support and recruit volunteers.
“I struggled a lot at the beginning with finding these connections,” she notes. “Facebook was the perfect way to connect with people in my community who were eager to help but did not know where to start.”
By interacting with other organizations’ Facebook pages, Noon recruited several volunteers and formed partnerships with organizations that have similar missions. She says social media was a valuable facet of her organization because it enabled her to connect with like-minded people eager to serve disabled populations.
Start Building an Online Presence
Begin thinking about how you can leverage online platforms to improve health care and enhance your professional network as an aspiring doctor.
Joshi stresses the importance of creating an online presence.
“Your future career will be positively impacted by engaging in this because you will build your network and you will find mentors,” she says. “You will also be able to connect with leaders outside of your geographical location. This will naturally lead to interviews, internships and other opportunities.”
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