Left to right: Dr. Ed Mariano, Rebecca Tsai (author), Dr. Abigail Schirmer (author), Dr. Philip Levin, Dr. Antonio Conte, and Mathew Ciurash at the spring ASA Board of Directors Meeting – a great example of professional relationships made first through social media!

Left to right: Dr. Ed Mariano, Rebecca Tsai (author), Dr. Abigail Schirmer (author), Dr. Philip Levin, Dr. Antonio Conte, and Mathew Ciurash at the spring ASA Board of Directors Meeting – a great example of professional relationships made first through social media!

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As leaders within the ASA Medical Student and Resident Components, the most frequently asked question we receive from fellow students and trainees is, “How do I get involved in anesthesiology?” Similarly, we have received inquiries from leaders within ASA and other professional anesthesiology organizations on, “How do we connect and engage best with students and trainees?” Our answer: social media.

The COVID-19 pandemic shifted many educational, advocacy, and networking opportunities and resources online. Between lectures, residency program interviews, and even the ANESTHESIOLOGY® annual meeting (2020), the pandemic moved many professional interactions among trainees to a virtual format without a formal structure for community-building. Social media quickly and expeditiously filled in the framework to fulfill these essential pieces of professional activity within our specialty.

Within formal medical education, the pandemic led to reliance on online modes of learning and connecting, such as asynchronous lectures, virtual labs, and social media platforms. These online platforms have been firmly integrated into the medical education system, with increased usage by students and medical schools alike. Medical students primarily utilize social media and online platforms to stay informed of new opportunities and access resources within their home institutions and those beyond. From X to Reddit and Discord, students universally rely on free and accessible social media networks to communicate about all things, from Boards to the Match. Thus, in order to continue attracting quality future trainees to the field of anesthesiology, it is necessary to intentionally utilize online platforms, which trainees already rely on, to foster meaningful connections and showcase the field.

Utilizing online platforms to inform students about our specialty is an accessible and cost-effective modality for welcoming the next generation of anesthesiologists. Students are often only exposed to anesthesiology later in the third or fourth years of medical school. Additionally, once a medical student begins to seek resources and mentorship in anesthesiology, some find that few options are available at their home institution. Often, students do not have a home anesthesiology program from which to seek guidance. Therefore, online platforms allow all trainees to have fair and equitable access to resources. Trainees are highly motivated and seek to engage with the field by establishing connections with their peers, faculty, and professional organizations. It is imperative, then, as fellow trainees, future attendings, and professional organizational leaders, that we harness this desire and capture the opportunity to speak directly to the next generation of anesthesiologists, who are eager to connect.

The utilization of social media not only allows us to attract quality candidates to the field but also to provide accessible education on the issues facing anesthesiology today. The impact of intentional social media use is far-reaching, as showcased by programs such as the Virtual Pre-Op Calls program led by Amanda Xi, MD, which has provided a direct educational and indirect networking opportunity for students across the country to interact with faculty volunteers from a variety of residency programs (J Educ Perioper Med 2023;25:E706). Additionally, we have seen benefits in X accounts such as @FutureAnesRes, which has provided a community for students applying to anesthesiology residencies to support one another and even provide leadership opportunities through a student-created and student-led social media account.

While some professional organizations and trainees are active online, we advocate for a more robust social media presence from professional organizations to highlight leadership, research, and mentorship opportunities. We believe this shift in communication will better foster engagement with the next generation of anesthesiologists. Engagement is optimized when students and trainees have increased opportunities for direct involvement within the field. When communication of these opportunities is accessible through social media platforms, students and trainees are more likely to be engaged. Social media levels the playing field by offering an accessible and cost-effective modality to kickstart this engagement and serves as a starting point for welcoming students and engaging trainees in anesthesiology.

If you are new to social media and unsure where to start, you are not alone. Here, we offer a brief summary of platforms currently used by trainees and possible ideas for content creation and engagement.

  1. X (ASA Monitor 2021;85:40)

    • Designed for focused, bite-sized information. Content may include announcements, upcoming educational opportunities, invitations to network, findings from publications, and achievements. Promotes opportunities for direct connection and networking via direct messages. We encourage more trainees to utilize this platform to stay informed of upcoming opportunities.

  2. Instagram

    • Designed for curated information centered around images and videos. Content may include achievements, upcoming educational opportunities, invitations to network, and photos from recent social gatherings.

  3. TikTok

    • Designed for quick video recordings. Allows for direct engagement with live video function. Content should be planned in advance to allow for thoughtful content creation.

  4. Discord

    • A widely used community chat space that allows users to connect directly based on interests or subtopics. Chat rooms can be monitored, and guidelines should be enforced to allow for respectful and inclusive discussion.

The content ideas listed above are only a few examples and should serve as a starting point. Professional social media use should be a positive experience, with the goal of elevating the field and our colleagues within it.

Rebecca Nika Tsai, MS, President-Elect, ASA Medical Student Component, and Medical Student, Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Rebecca Nika Tsai, MS, President-Elect, ASA Medical Student Component, and Medical Student, Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico.

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Abigail Schirmer, MD, President-Elect, ASA Resident Component, and CA-2/PGY-3, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Abigail Schirmer, MD, President-Elect, ASA Resident Component, and CA-2/PGY-3, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

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