IRQ Articles

EMERGING TECH: Digital didactics 

01-19-2018 11:55

Today's approach to education, communications and networking

By Diane Szaflarski  Winter 2018

New generations are growing up in a world where the touch of a button can open endless possibilities, all from the palm of their hand. Even incoming IRs who haven’t grown up with the technology have certainly used it to improve their lives and advance their careers. It’s clear, then, that mobile and other growing technologies have become an integral part of how we communicate with each other. This article explores some of the ways IRs are using digital platforms to change the way we learn.

Birds of a feather

Before the development of social media platforms, physicians’ communication and networking capabilities were limited by physical location. This barrier has been broken down with the advent of social media platforms like Doximity, which is geared specifically towards physician networking.

Another physician favorite is Twitter, which physicians at SIR meetings have used to share with like-minded professionals information about interesting abstracts, scientific breakthroughs being shared and general observations—helping spread scientific research and educational information to a much broader audience. 

Read more about how IRs are using social media on page 26.

Connecting through SIR

Online communication is also increasingly prevalent through discussion boards like SIR Connect, which allows physicians of all experience levels to easily interact with each other. On the Open Forum, members learn from each other by asking questions and discussing opinions about procedures, complex patients and common problems. This allows physicians to learn multiple approaches to the same challenge, so they can consider and customize their own approach to patients and procedures.

Trainees and medical students also benefit from these discussion boards as they can learn about a variety of procedures early in their careers from physicians and mentors at widely varying practice settings, allowing our newer generation of physicians to have more diversity in their knowledge when entering practice.


Mentoring, which can be considered a form of both networking and education, has become far more prominent with the rise of social media and other online outlets. SIR recently improved its Mentor Match program, which is an online directory on SIR Connect that facilitates a match between two SIR members for a six-month program designed to help mentees set and meet their goals.

The entire relationship can be handled on a virtual basis. This online program allows a mentee a better chance of finding a mentor well-suited to them, since the pool of mentors is larger than one would find at a single institution.

Relationships can be formed on the basis of personality, short- and long-term goals, and interests within the field. Through these virtual mentor match programs, the potential for life-long mentorship can be cultivated entirely without the necessity of physical interaction or geographic proximity.

Stream of learning

Social media affords additional opportunities for online learning, especially with the creation of platforms such as Periscope—a live video streaming application purchased by Twitter. Periscope allows users to stream live video in a variety of settings such as formal didactic lectures or a real-time look inside procedures, and topics like the work flow in a fluoroscopy suite. Videos can be
watched live while they take place or they can be accessed up to 24 hours later. With the development of platforms such as Periscope, medicine is greatly expanding its reach to include audiences that once have been limited in their access to medical education.


As this article as highlighted, online platforms play a major role in networking, communication, education and a mix of all three, for IRs at any level. Physicians are using social media to build their brand and connect with colleagues who share similar interests. Digital didactics are used increasingly in all fields of medicine and are revolutionizing the way we educate our future physicians by exposing them to a larger amount of material earlier on in their careers.

Social media can seem intimidating to an inexperienced user but, once a few basic functions are learned, the possibilities for its utilization are endless.


1. Paul, Mike. The Beginner’s Guide to Using Periscope for Education. 2016, March 14.

2. Markham MJ, Gentile D, Graham DL. Social Media for Networking, Professional Development, and Patient Engagement. Am Soc Clin Oncol Educ Book. 2017;37:782-787.

3. D’Souza K, Henningham L, Zou R, et al. Attitudes of Health Professional Educators Toward the Use of Social Media as a Teaching Tool: Global Cross-Sectional Study. JMIR Med Educ. 2017;3(2):e13.

4. Alsobayel H. Use of Social Media for Professional Development by Health Care Professionals: A Cross-Sectional Web-Based Survey. JMIR Med Educ. 2016;2(2):e15


In the spirit of social media's influence within medicine, log into e-IRQ at and post a comment on your favorite method for digital learning!


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