Defining professionalism in the digital age: barriers and opportunities
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The overwhelming popularity of Web 2.0 technologies, such as social networking sites, media sharing sites and blogging, has significantly changed the manner in which trainees interact with educators, colleagues, and the lay public. Individual and institutional representation, the absence of existing policies and the perception of the lay public are some of the salient issues that arise when considering the "digital images" displayed by trainees and faculty alike. Little guidance exists for medical educators on preventing misuse of digital media and ensuring standards for professional conduct. Similarly, the positive potential of these media, within medical education, are only beginning to be realized. While many of these issues are also faced by colleagues in other areas of higher education, medical educators and their institutions are faced with the additional challenge of ensuring that graduates exemplify the ideals of medical professionalism. This lecture will address educators' understanding of the currently available technology, the threats that they pose to trainee professionalism and strategies to protect the trainees' and the program or institutions' digital image.