Leicester medical students win national competition on social media safety

Four medical students from Leicester Medical School have won a UK-wide competition on professionalism held by the General Medical Council (GMC) and the Medical Schools Council (MSC).

Students studying medicine across the country were invited to produce an online resource for their peers on how to use social media safely and professionally. Teams could create a social media post, podcast or blog to offer advice on challenges they may encounter in their professional life. The competition is held every year to help medical students develop their professional skills. 

University of Leicester students Nidhi Agarwal, Akil Khalid, Jakevir Shoker and Zobia Wadi, all 22, are in their fifth year of study. They created an animation tackling modern issues medical students may experience, such as what to do if contacted by a patient on social media for medical advice, or if approached to endorse a product online.

The group wanted to show that show social media can be powerful for medical students’ learning and development, when used safely and responsibly, using the GMC and MSC’s joint guidance Achieving Good Medical Practice. 

Nidhi said: “The examples in our video are encounters we’ve had or heard about, so we took this as an opportunity to highlight those common pitfalls to our fellow students. We hope that if students find themselves in similar scenarios, they’ll refer back to our video to make an informed choice.”

Professor Richard Holland, Head of Leicester Medical School, said: “I am delighted to see four of our medical students win this competitive national prize.  Social media is such an important tool, but there are hazards to its use too; so drawing medical students’ attention to those hazards is really important, and this video does that really well. This is a tribute to these students’ hard work and skills.”

Professor Colin Melville, the GMC’s Medical Director and Director of Education and Standards, who was part of the judging panel, said: “Our use of social media, whether as professionals or as patients shows no signs of slowing, and is continually changing. This year’s competition has given our future-doctors an opportunity to really think about how our best practice will apply in everyday life, when considering their own professional and personal lives.

“The winning team’s entry was genuine, comprehensive and highlighted important considerations, particularly for students communicating with each other via group chats and social media. Overall, it’s clear that a lot of effort went into creating this video. They are very deserved winners.”

The video will now be shared with all UK medical schools as a teaching resource. The winners also received £300 in shopping vouchers.

Clare Owen, Assistant Director of the Medical Schools Council said: “The standard of submissions this year was very high, and everyone who took the time to take part should feel incredibly proud. However, Leicester's entry particularly stood out with valuable, real-life examples to guide medical students when using social media in a personal and professional context, while also being a very engaging video.”

The group will continue sharing the benefits of using social media safely for medical education. The winners also have the opportunity to present at the GMC’s annual conference.