Twitter Inclusivity – A Case For Separate MedEd Hashtags

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.



  1. #1 by ffolliet on June 13, 2011 - 8:35 am

    yes. the UK system is unique in its selection, training, funding, examining, output… etc etc. whilst there is value in input from outside the output is principally for local consumption. the mechanism to achieve that both real runner and on archive would be of value on establishing

  2. #2 by Anne Marie Cunningham on June 13, 2011 - 2:19 pm

    thanks David. My feeling is medical education is global. We have journals where we publisk that are not just EU or UK or US-orientated. We archive by time and maybe we should do a post on the foxepraxctice website so that others know how to search at other times.
    Yes, others might ask us what placements are but that is all for the good and the richness.
    Since I started using the #meded tag a few years ago we have gradually been building up a community all around the world. I’m loathe to seperate it out to much yet. If we want to start a seperate tag for the chat then we can. But in my opinion these are best enjoyed and learnt from through participation. It’s our intention that when we have time we will try to draw out main points. But at this stage I see the chats as mainly about getting to know each other.

    I await the thoughts of others.
    Thanks again,

    • #3 by drdlittle on June 14, 2011 - 1:41 pm

      Medical education is undoubtedly global but I do question the relevance of some international ideas when they are so fundamentally different to our own.

      I think the #meded tag is a fantastic idea and the community seems to be growing all the time. I worry slightly that as it grows, it will become ever more difficult to separate the relevant output but perhaps there would be more reason for separate tags at a later date.

      As I said in my post, one of the reasons I think Twitter is great, is its potential for inclusivity which is why this whole idea is somewhat of a dilemma for me too.

  3. #4 by Ryan Madanick. MD on June 14, 2011 - 1:20 am

    I echo AM’s comments. Several of us discussed the possibilities of splitting hashtags, using #mededchat, etc…

    But in the end, #meded works just fine. Actually as it turned out, a few of us over on this side of the Atlantic were not familiar with the term “placements”, so we asked @nlafferty.

    We can all “filter” through what we want to read. Like AM says, the transcripts are set up by time for the chats. Plus it makes it easier if we want to participate in the chat for the opposite continent.

    Thanks for posting.

  4. #5 by futuredocs on June 14, 2011 - 5:06 am

    Personally, I like waking up in the US and seeing the nonUS #meded discussion! I agree with Anne Marie that twitter chats may be best served with international hash tags to tag the chat only but i would hate not to have the #meded hashtag used especially as it has brought us closer to our colleagues around the world. Vinny (@futuredocs)

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