One of the wonders of Twitter is it’s inclusivity. In medicine for example, you might find a medical student from the UK asking questions to a surgeon in Australia, twitter allows debate across international boundaries and without the restriction of hierarchy, which is often present in real-life. For me this is what twitter is about, connecting people and providing a forum for the exchange of ideas on a global scale.
Why then am I proposing that the medical education hashtag (#MedEd) be divided up by location, will this not exclude a potentially wide range of people and ideas?
I suggest that we adopt location based hashtags such as #MedEdUK or #MedEdEU and #MedEdUS. This would allow more focussed and relevant discussion to occur. Take for example the recent UK/EU #MedEd chat on clinical placements, the participants of which were almost all European. There was confusion with discussion of a different topic in the US, the next morning I searched for #MedEd only to discover hundreds of tweets on a topic that had been discussed overnight, largely by a US audience. Early, accurate
archiving could be one solution to this but it becomes very difficult to separate tweets from different discussions, particularly when there are increasing numbers of participants. Not only would separate hashtags make discussions easier to follow in real-time but it would make archiving much easier and more useful.
I would argue that there is a significant difference between how medical education is delivered in different countries, and that the sharing of these ideas, whilst interesting, is not realistically useful when considering local practice. Where there is a topic that is potentially relevant to all, we could go back to the all-inclusive #MedEd or even #MedEdGlobal.
What about using two hashtags per post? Another possible solution but with an already restricted number of characters, it would limit discussion even more.
Whilst separate hashtags might mean losing some of the inclusivity that twitter provides, it would make discussions much clearer, easier to follow, more focused and potentially more useful.