There’s no denying that now, more than ever, we are better connected to our electronic devices; 24/7, around the clock. The phenomenon of ‘Zoom’ and ‘Microsoft Teams’ is shaping the future of medical education, national trainee recruitment and conference access.
The pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic have diverted many surgeons and medical physicians away from their coveted educational time to clinical work and sometimes unfamiliar specialties, as help must go where it is needed. However, this has left many trainees feeling ‘behind’ or simply just missing learning about their field of interest.
Instagram, a user-friendly social media application, is not just for selfies and latte art. The platform is rising in the field of medical education and home to many active, enthusiastic healthcare learners and educators. The visual nature of Instagram aligns itself well with surgical and anatomical content and its educational value in radiology and dermatology is being investigated [1,2,3]. A meta-analysis found that using social media in medical education increased engagement and overall satisfaction . For these reasons, Instagram has been adopted by consultant ophthalmologists, ophthalmology trainees and optometrists aiming to educate and connect like-minded professionals. The bite-size dissemination of content and visually rich ophthalmic ‘spotter’ accounts have made this one of my go-to applications for on-the-go learning. Whether I’m sipping my third cup of coffee or taking a break between admissions, these are just a few of the accounts I’m probably looking at.
Although this list is in no particular order, @the.eyedoc has to be my favourite. Run by an ophthalmology speciality trainee, this account is extremely active and committed to education. Followers have the joy of being taken through an educational series which have so far included the ‘Eye Emergency Series’ and ‘Ophthalmology for GP Series’. You can expect to see high quality images with a thorough yet easily digestible explanatory piece attached. What I particularly enjoy are the quiz questions posted on Instagram Stories which act as a quick knowledge recall method. Not only this, but @the.eyedoc has alerted me to very interesting research publications which are well summarised and linked for ease. There are numerous times I’ve had to thank @the.eyedoc for sharing upcoming educational webinars and conferences. @the.eyedoc promotes an interactive environment for learning and you may find yourself in conversation with surgeons from the US and Australia!
This account is linked to the well-known and popular website eyerounds.org The University of Iowa Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences provide a plethora of stunning ophthalmic images posted to act as either a ‘spotter’ or part of a case-based discussion. Cases range from simple to complicated to the weird and wonderful. The comments generate interesting, educated discussion from a range of trainee levels and I never fail to learn something new. If your attention is particularly captured, further detailed information on most cases can be found on their main website. I would strongly recommend visiting eyerounds.org when scrolling through this account. There is an unbelievable range of informative cases, tutorials and an atlas which is easily navigated on any mobile device. Rake in that extra bit of knowledge where you can!
@neuro_ophthalmology posts high quality, in depth content related to neuro-ophthalmology and covers the broad topics of anatomy, physiology and clinical cases. The account creates visually appealing posts that manage to comprise a lot of information and I have often found myself referring back to them for revision purposes. The ‘Diagnostic Tree for Transient Visual Loss’ with accompanying notes created by @neuro_ophthalmology has made its way into my ‘saved bank’ for easy access. Each post is accompanied by an explanatory piece which ranges from pithy and short to extremely detailed, depending on the topic. Tolsa-Hunt syndrome, orbital extension of intracranial tumours and the oculocardiac reflex are only a few of the topics that have been covered.
This account is run by Retinal Specialist Dr Giray Ersöz of Biruni University Hospital. With 47,000 followers, this is probably one of the largest ophthalmology related accounts (closely followed by @the_eye_dr who gives a fantastic overview of life as an ophthalmic surgeon in London). @retina.review focuses specifically on sharing retinal cases either as images or videos, with accompanying OCT and CT images where appropriate. With 290 cases posted, I’m still making my way through the list. However, I know that whenever boredom sets in, I can rely on this account to provide me with something new to see and learn. The images are exquisite and cases have included choroidal melanoma, Stargardt disease and toxoplasma chorioretinitis.
For those who are looking for a more structured and engaged format for learning, @eyeducation can help. @eyeducation has been providing virtual postgraduate ophthalmology teaching throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to do so as the NHS comes out the other side. The initiative was launched in April 2020 and aimed to fill the gap in postgraduate teaching. The account posts upcoming educational webinars / events from different institutions in the UK. The linked website (eyeducation.co.uk) also provides numerous educational resources. Speakers have included surgeons from Moorfields Eye Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital. It is an invaluable resource!
1. Douglas NKM, Scholz M, Myers MA, et al. Reviewing the Role of Instagram in Education: Can a Photo Sharing Application Deliver Benefits to Medical and Dental Anatomy Education? Med Sci Educ 2019;29:1117-28.
2. Shafer S, Johnson MB, Thomas RB, et al. Instagram as a Vehicle for Education: What Radiology Educators Need to Know. Acad Radiol 2018;25(6):819-22.
3. Chen JY, Gardner JM, Chen SC, McMichael JR. Instagram for dermatology education. J Am Acad Dermatol 2020;83(4):1175‑6.
4. Cheston CC, Flickinger TE, Chisolm MS. Social media use in medical education: a systematic review. Acad Med 2013;88:893‑901.
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