Delivering mission-critical training through social media

Clinicians confined to work and home during the pandemic find educational needs at their fingertips using social media


Social media sites have exploded over the last 10 years with users, followers and content designers bringing special topics geared towards certain groups. What started with just teenagers and the site MySpace, has since morphed into TikTok, Instagram and Twitter. These sites offer a unique ability for emergency medical service educators to deliver content to EMTs, paramedics and other medical professionals when they only have a few minutes to spare.

“Recent literature into adult learners demonstrates that attention spans wain after approximately 10 minutes. In fact, some medical conferences have transitioned to shorter sessions with moderators and 10 minute presentations,” Dr. Liz Powell, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center and R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, said. “For daily practice, often it is challenging to find time to spend 30-45 minutes reading an entire journal article or watch a 60-minute lecture. Constant interruptions make retention difficult.”

Powell added that 1-2 minutes can introduce a topic and provide mission-critical information, allowing the learner to then explore the topic more in depth later.

Geoff Murphy, CEO and educator of Master Your Medics, provides EMT and paramedic education through short, illustrated videos.
Geoff Murphy, CEO and educator of Master Your Medics, provides EMT and paramedic education through short, illustrated videos. (Photo/Courtesy of Todd Bowman)

Breaking complex content into digestible bites

Powell added that conferences like SMACC (Social Media and Critical Care) are using social media and critical care in a short presentation format.

“FOAMed is also commonly utilized and Twitter has become a source for quick efficient, medical education that is open access,” said Powell

Drew DeHaven, an EMS educator and veteran paramedic in Maryland and Virginia, echoed Powell’s statement. “Each student and practitioner in the prehospital environment learns differently. The various social media sites that focus on EMS topics do a phenomenal job breaking down complex topics into simple ideas in digestible bites,” DeHaven said.

According to Canadian-based Master Your Medics creator and Flight Paramedic, Geoff Murphy, his organization has found keeping social media training videos short and limited to one concept at a has helped to make difficult topics simple in the mind of a student and young paramedic.

“Our true mission is to develop the next generation of world class paramedics; give them the opportunity to understand,” Murphy said. “Making sure their foundations are solid, in order to get that, we need to get deep into the physiology.”

“We already know we have a goldfish mind, especially when it comes to social media. Using that to our advantage has allowed us to capture attention,” Murphy said.

Visual, consumer-driven content

In Murphy’s view, paramedic education is in a flux.  Programs are getting faster, and less time is focused on fundamentals. When these fundamentals are less understood by the student, they won't understand the "why" of what they are doing when faced with patients.

“It is one thing for an educator to stand in front of a class to present a new topic or concept, but what really drives the point home is hearing the same concept from another source with a different perspective,” DeHaven said.

Students will have that “aha” moment when they finally reach a deep understanding of a concept, DeHaven added.

“They desire, they require a more visual approach of foundational concepts. As good as a textbook is at getting the first concept, if there is no experience with physiology, the student makes their own impression,” Murphy said. “If we can show what is happening in the body, if we can show them in a visual concept ... this is what is really going on in the body.”

Murphy said that his videos and posts are audience driven and there is no point in making educational videos on subjects his viewers don’t care about, especially for social media.

“We rely on them to give us the topics they need help with,” Murphy added.

Murphy’s videos include a wide array of topics including cardiac output, cardiac rhythms, myocardial infarcts, understanding ventilation, PEEP, using saline or lactated ringers, fluid with sepsis patients, Le Fort fractures, bilateral blood pressures in aortic aneurysms and case studies.

Each video, averaging 2 minutes in length, gives the viewers pertinent, need-to-know information by an experienced, calm, confident educator.

Other social media creators, like FOAMfrat, provide critical care and emergency medicine training to paramedics and nurses worldwide utilizing major social media outlets to give clinicians short tips to understand and remember complex topics.

DeHaven added, “All of the social media sites present an opportunity for another perspective on topics, a deeper dive into something that interests you and a refresher on low frequency presentations. They all do a great job keeping us fresh on the many concepts and topics we are responsible for knowing.”


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