How much do preclinical medical students utilize the internet to study physiology?

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O'Malley, Dervla
Barry, Denis S.
Rae, Mark G.
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Medical students increasingly utilize social media platforms to supplement their preclinical learning; however, the prevalence of social media use for physiology learning in medical education remains unclear. The aim of the present study was to determine how first-year medical students from both direct entry medicine and graduate entry medicine interacted with social media as a learning tool by assessing its prevalence, perceived benefits, favored platforms, and reason(s) for its use. Seventy-one percent of surveyed students (out of 139 participants) stated that they interacted with social media in general more than 12 times per week. However, 98% had previously used internet platforms to source physiology information, with 89.2% doing so at least once per week during term. YouTube was the primary source of learning for 76% of students. Significantly, 94% of students indicated that they would first search for answers online if they did not understand something in physiology rather than contacting their instructor in person or by e-mail. However, only 31% of students “fact-checked” physiology information obtained from online sources, by using textbooks, papers, and/or instructors. Our study has revealed that most preclinical medical students utilize social media extensively to study physiology. However, the absence of academic and ethical oversight, paired with students’ lack of critical appraisal of possibly inaccurate information, does raise concerns about the overall utility of social media as part of physiology education.
Fact-checking , Physiology , Preclinical medical students , Social media , YouTube
O'Malley, D., Barry, D. S. and Rae, M. G. (2019) 'How much do preclinical medical students utilize the internet to study physiology?', Advances in Physiology Education, 43(3), pp. 383-391. doi: 10.1152/advan.00070.2019
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