Social networking in medicine: The VIIth nerve Facebook page


Rachel Mullenger
Lauren Jain
Nadim Joukhadar
Genna Bourget
Dr. Ehud Ur
Dr. Kim Blake


Social Networking


Social Media


Department of Pediatrics, Dalhousie University, Canada



The VII Nerve page was created for medical students worldwide to centralize resources and facilitate peer-communication and networking. The page is capable of sharing medical cases and educational tools such as videos, apps, audio sounds and research articles. Research iscurrently taking place at medical schools in Canada and internationally.

Summary of Work

Resources including cases, clinical videos, photos, tools, research and news articles are posted on a facebook page for medical students. All users are capable of commenting on posts as well as posting their own materials to share with others.




Demographics and location of users, visits to the page, type of posts and total number of users is tracked daily through facebook and analyzed.


Please see more details for examples of posts in pediatrics, surgery, nutrition, psychology, clinical skills and other areas of interest. 

Summary of Results

To date 144 users have subscribed to the facebook page and the page has reached 44,042 people on facebook.

Users are most engaged by videos and photos while questionnaires have had the least interaction, most likely due to confidentiality and anonymity.

The highest number of users visit the page only once, followed by the second highest number of users visiting the page greater than 21 times. 

Number of visits to the site per user:


The VIIth nerve is evolving and effectively connecting students internationally. Synergies between social networks and medicine is vastly underrepresented in the literature to date. In today’s technological society, the implications of social media in the learning environment may be of significant value and affect the future practice of medicine.

Take-home Messages

This research hope to gain knowledge and insights into the tools that students find beneficial throughout their undergraduate medical education and how social media can effectively be implemented to prepare students for clinical clerkship and lifelong learning. 


Special thank you to Dr. Melanie Simon, Medical Faculty of RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany




The objectives of this study are to:

  • To use social media to connect medical students worldwide in a network that facilitates peer communication and resource sharing.
  • To establish 'best practice models' for emerging social media platforms in clinicallearning and teaching for medical students. 
  • To increase knowledge and insight into the tools that students find most beneficial throughout their undergraduate medical education. 
  • To determine how social media can effectively be implemented into medical education to prepare students for clinical clerkship and lifelong learning. Today’s society has seen a revolution in technology and a rise in the popularity of social network platforms, including facebook. The shift from the internet as a content management tool to a social media platform began in 2005 and today the majority of students are well connected with mobile smart phones, tablets and laptops that allow quick access to countless resources at their fingertips (Squazzo 2010).



Social media is on the rise but healthcare is one of the last industries to embrace the trend with only 9.58% of US hospitals reportedly using social media (Squazzo 2010). Social media is speculated to play a role in improving hospital communication, hospital recruitment and patient satisfaction but it may also play a role in medical education.


Social media is cost effective and easy to implement. Mobile devices can be taken anywhere, providing the potential for "anytime, anywhere" learning experiences and students in remote areas can feel connect to larger training hospitals as well as their peers and tutors (Bouos et. al 2006). By nature, health care is community orientated and by building an online community social media brings community to the education setting. (Boulos and Wheeler 2007)

Summary of Work

Future steps of the study include conducting focus groups to determine usefulness and challenges of social media in education and enhance the data generated by users.

The objectives of the focus groups will be to learn how students use social media and the role they see for social media in medical education. Questions will focus in general on the potential of social media in medical education and specifically on the VIIth Nerve facebook page. 



The above video clip demonstrates a women with catatonic schizophrenia, a subtype of schizophrenia characterized by states of dramatic motor immobility or rigidity, resistance to attempts at repositioning, and/or reduced responsiveness to external stimuli (stupor). Additionally, repetitive purposeless actions, abnormal posturing, echolalia and echopraxia may be seen with this subtype.




Summary of Results

The page the number of views does not correspond to the number of responses. This suggests that students are interested in the content but choose not to respond due to confidentiality and the ability of other to view their answers. 

Surveys and focus groups will evaluate overall effectiveness, challenges, optimizing resources and comparisons to other electronic resources. 


The VIIth Nerve will continue to grow its network of student users worldwide and adapt to meet the needs of it’s audience. As the audience grows and uses become more engaged the page will become self sustainable. This research will contribute to the literature on social media in medical education and offer insight into applicability and enhancement of traditional means of education and resource sharing. 


Take-home Messages


1. Boulos MN, Wheeler S. 2007. The emerging Web 2.0 social software: an enabling suite of sociable technologies in health and health care education. Health Info Libr J. 24(1):2-23.


2. Boulos MN, Maramba I, Wheeler S. 2006. Wikis, blogs, and podcasts: A new generation of web-based tools for virtual collaborative clinical practice and education. BMC Med Educ 6:41.



3. Squazzo J. 2010. Best practices for applying social media in healthcare. Healthcare Exec. 25(3):34-6, 38-9.

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