Background: Social media use by physicians offers potential benefits but may also be associated with professionalism problems. The objectives of this study were: 1) to examine and compare characteristics of social media use by medical students and faculty; 2) to explore the scope of self- and peer-posting of unprofessional online content; and 3) to determine what actions were taken when unprofessional content was viewed. Methods: An anonymous, web-based survey was sent to medical students and faculty in October, 2013 at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York. Results: Three-quarters of medical students reported using social media "very frequently" (several times a day), whereas less than one-third of faculty did so (p <.001). Medical students reported using privacy settings more often than faculty (96.5 % v. 78.1 %, p <.001). Most medical students (94.2 %) and faculty (94.1 %) reported "never" or "occasionally" monitoring their online presence (p = 0.94). Medical students reported self-posting of profanity, depiction of intoxication, and sexually suggestive material more often than faculty (p <.001). Medical students and faculty both reported peer-posting of unprofessional content significantly more often than self-posting. There was no association between year of medical school and posting of unprofessional content. Conclusion: Medical students reported spending more time using social media and posting unprofessional content more often than did faculty.
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