The Nephrologists and the Internet!

Dr. Scott Gilbert (eAJKD), Education Editor of AJKD speaks with Dr. Matthew Sparks (MS) from Duke University Division of Nephrology on embracing the internet to enhance education in Nephrology.

“Blogging, tweeting, Facebook friending” have become new jargons of the current generation.  Such tools can be utilized to their advantage towards medical educations if done in a structured and moderated manner. Nephrology societies and physicians are quickly embracing these social media tools and have adopted to use these tools in their day to day learning and spreading of knowledge. In the recent article by Sparks et al, web based nephrology learning is summarized.

eAJKD: How did you become interested in web-based educational applications?

MS: Several years ago I attended the Renal Fellows Course at Mt Desert Island. I had the pleasure of meeting the late Dr. Nathan Hellman, then a renal fellow from BWH/MGH Harvard Program and the founder of the Renal Fellow Network. Nathan had been posting daily updates of topics of interest to renal fellows, including unique cases, things he learned, and challenges he encountered. I quickly realized how web-based applications could bring people with shared interests together in a virtual community.

eAJKD: Why did you write this article?

MS: I have realized that web-based applications have a great deal to offer the nephrology community. This is a place where ideas can be shared, experiences can be gathered, and concerns discussed. The web based offerings become richer as the nephrology community that participates in these dialogues grows. I hoped this article would expose the wider nephrology community to how web-based applications can be used, and demystify what the web has to offer.

eAJKD: Who stands to benefits from these web-based applications?

MS: The internet is a place where any group of people can come together to share thoughts, ideas, and experiences. Fellows may identify a site that offers support for the challenges of their unique experience. Patients can gather to discuss coping with a particular disease. Medical students and residents can access a network of peers and advisors to discuss career paths. And physicians can discuss articles, share experiences, and build networks. The web is so vast that there is something for everyone, often organized by specific issues.

eAJKD: What are some of the limitations of these web-based educational applications?

MS: Before fully embracing the web as a site to share ideas and gain experiences, participants must be aware of the limitations and restriction. I discuss how the validity of posts should be carefully gauged by the presence of citations and links to reputable sites.  Many sites have gained the endorsement of professional societies which enhances their credibility. And “Health on the Net” certification ensures that sites adhere to principles that minimize bias and ensure disclosure.

Physicians have to also be aware of what can and cannot be shared. Patient information cannot be posted on-line due to HIPPA requirements. Medical advice should not be offered. The web should be a place where the community comes together, not a place where care is provided.

To view the entire article please visit AJKD 

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