Beware of Indiscriminate Social Media Use: NMC warns medical students

New Delhi: Referring to the possible professional hazards associated with the indiscriminate use of social media, the Ethics and Medical Registration Board (EMRB) of the National Medical Commission (NMC) has asked medical students not to indiscriminately post on social media regarding patients and patient-related information.

Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that in the recently released guidelines on “Professional Responsibilities of Medical Students”, NMC has discussed several issues related to the students including responsibilities related to academic growth, responsibilities related to personal growth, responsibilities towards society and national goals, and support framework to ensure optimal functioning and growth of medical students.

While specifying the responsibilities of students related to personal growth, NMC pointed out how the usage of social media is expanding every day and mentioned, “Students must be aware of the ever expanding scope of social media with its usefulness as well as possible professional hazards associated with its indiscriminate use.”

“Hence, medical students are expected not to indiscriminately post on social media regarding patient and patient related information,” further mentioned the Apex medical education regulatory body.

Specifying other responsibilities related to personal growth of medical students, the guidelines encouraged the students to take care of themselves and lead a healthy life style. “They are particularly expected to avoid alcohol, tobacco and other substances of abuse. Students are expected to seek treatment and counselling in case of substance abuse,” it stated.

Also Read: NMC releases Guidelines on Professional Responsibilities of Medical Teachers, details

Apart from this, NMC has also asked the students to actively participate in mentor sessions. In this regard, the guidelines issued by EMRB member Dr. Yogender Malik stated, “The medical course inherently carries with it unique pressures and challenges: students may feel out-of-control and unable to live up to their own expectations and those of their peers or families. Students are strongly encouraged to seek professional help in these circumstances.”

“In order to maintain health and well being, students are encouraged to participate in Yoga and meditation sessions organised by the institution,” it further mentioned.

NMC has also directed the students to freely interact with their colleagues without discriminating on the basis of language, caste, gender, region, socio-economic class, or any other way which may invariably prevent understanding of the rich diversity of students and tend to foster stereotyping and division.

“Active participation in extra-curricular activities can help overcome such divisions and barriers. An atmosphere of openness to all members of society is critical as they are to deliver services to the whole society in an equitable and sustainable manner in future including services in different regions,” it mentioned.

Mentioning that students are expected to actively participate in the current modules of the curriculum prescribed by NMC, the guidelines mentioned that “These are designed to promote an appropriate attitude, ethical conduct and proper communication methods during patient encounters.”

“The students are expected to be aware of patient’s autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice. These elements of medical education are not merely ancillary to the main subjects but essential to ensure an ethical doctor-patient relationship and maintain public trust in the health system,” it added.

“Students are encouraged to seek positive role models among medical students and teachers whom they can emulate in terms of skills, attitudes and behaviour,” it further mentioned.

The apex medical commission has mentioned in the guidelines that during the clinical training, the medical students are expected to politely introduce themselves as students to the patients before eliciting history and examining patients.

Stressing upon the need for the students to remain aware of their limitations, NMC mentioned, “They must understand that patients are not a means to an end. Students must be sensitive to the patient’s needs and wishes. Students must also be aware that they must maintain the confidentiality of information that they elicit during their clinical patient encounters and at the same time be responsible to inform the treating team about the same to ensure proper management. They must be aware of their limitations, and should avoid giving advice regarding treatment, or doing counselling without due instruction from their teachers.”

The guidelines mentioned that learning at the level of communities is an essential component of medical education, and added that knowledge and experience gathered by students during the community interactions, including diversity in education, living standards, social support systems, access to basic amenities, health access and environmental conditions etc., is essential if students are to understand the social context when patients come to hospital and to be able to participate in health promotion and disease prevention activities in the community.

Referring to this, NMC has stressed upon willing interaction of students to participating in health camps/health awareness campaigns. For any kind of grievance, the guidelines have advised students to approach appropriate authorities for its redressal.

“These guidelines may serve to remind them of their social obligations even during the training period, in the spirit of human service and excellence and help them align with the goals of curriculum for Indian Medical Graduate (IMG). It is expected that these guidelines will be used by Teachers, Medical Education Unit (MEUs) and Institutions to instill a sense of responsibility in Medical Students rather than using them for punitive actions,” the NMC ethics board mentioned in the guidelines.

Apart from the instructions mentioned above, the guidelines also underlines the need for the students to earn the local language so as to effectively communicate with patients and participate in community events, adds PTI.

Medical students are expected to dress modestly and appropriately in all their professional endeavours, it stated. The guidelines have urged students to get involved in research during their MBBS course under the guidance of their teachers. They should be familiar with the ICMR guidelines that govern research.

Students are expected to be honest and practise integrity during all examinations. Cheating in any form is a form of corruption that not only undermines the purpose of the examinations but also runs contradictory to what is expected of a medical student.

Also Read: NMC releases Guidelines on Professional Responsibilities of Medical Students 

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