Student Pharmacist Leaders Discuss the Role of Social Media in Their Learning and Career Exploration

Pharmacy Careers, Pharmacy Careers Fall 2019, Volume 13, Issue 2

The use of social media for information and career exploration was recently examined in a roundtable discussion hosted by Pharmacy Careers® with student pharmacist leaders from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Chapman University School of Pharmacy, University of Arizona College of Pharmacy, and Chicago College of Pharmacy at Midwestern University.

The use of social media for information and career exploration was recently examined in a roundtable discussion hosted by Pharmacy Careers® with student pharmacist leaders from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Chapman University School of Pharmacy, University of Arizona College of Pharmacy, and Chicago College of Pharmacy at Midwestern University.

Student pharmacists report utilizing social media for learning, communicating, and career exploration throughout their pharmacy education. They use various platforms depending on the need, such as social communication or professional networking, and their reported social media use aligns with previously reported research and United States statistics for social media network use.

Social media is used by 70% of the US population, and by 90% of those between the ages of 18 and 29 years.1 The choice of platform varies with age and education. For example, about 50% of college graduates report using LinkedIn.2 Similarly, individuals aged 18 to 24 years are more likely to use Snapchat than those who are 25 to 29 years.2 Age variations, however, are less apparent for Facebook, with 68% of individuals aged 50 to 64 years reporting that they use the platform.2

A 2016 study assessed the value of online learning and social media as part of pharmacy education.3 According to the authors, student pharmacists have significant exposure to online learning and social media in their pharmacy education due to technology integration and increased uptake of online learning methods.

To determine student pharmacist online learning and social media preferences, a 36-question survey was administered online to third-year student pharmacists enrolled in the drug information and clinical literature evaluation course. The survey had a 96% response rate (n = 431), with the majority of students saying they use technology for their learning. Also, 58% reported using social media networks to communicate with their classmates3 and 82% strongly agreed that they felt comfortable using social media networking to communicate about coursework.3

Similarly, student pharmacist leaders who attended the roundtable reported widespread use of social media in their institutions for learning, obtaining information, communicating, and career exploration. They reported utilizing social media networks like Facebook for promoting pharmacy organization events on campus and for upcoming events off campus, such as health fairs, and that since the majority of students utilized this social media network, it was an effective method to spread word and market their events to their class.

Furthermore, students reported “liking” pages of their favorite resources, such as magazines, journals, and news sites, to assist in finding articles that contain relevant pharmacy updates and information to enhance their learning. The roundtable focused on the importance of headlines for relevance and to grab their attention, respective to where they were in their pharmacy education coursework. For example, a first-year student may be drawn to articles that focus on networking and learning more about pharmacy, whereas second- or third-year students may prefer articles that discuss therapeutic knowledge and counseling pearls. Regardless of content, the student pharmacists agreed that articles with engaging pictures and streamlined content were the most likely to be read.

Another discussion from the roundtable focused on the use of social media for career exploration. The student pharmacists discussed how LinkedIn is being used more than ever for job searching and creating their professional brand. They cited the importance of creating a professional-looking profile early on in their pharmacy careers and updating it regularly with relevant information. The development and updating were considered crucial as recruiters begin reaching out to students early on the platform to discuss future job opportunities and summer internships. The speakers agreed that not having a LinkedIn profile would make job searching and networking a lot more difficult.

In addition, LinkedIn was described as a method to stay up-todate with their professor’s careers and to engage with them in a professional manner outside of the classroom. LinkedIn, according to the students, has become an important networking tool that potentially opens doors for career opportunities. It is being used by students as a digital resume and curriculum vitae to keep other users apprised of their experiences and successes as they progress through their pharmacy education and prepare to enter the profession as practicing pharmacists.

The overarching theme of the roundtable: Student pharmacists report feeling comfortable with the integration of technology into their educational experiences and expect it to continue as use of these platforms becomes more commonplace for obtaining clinical information and exploring career opportunities.

REFERENCES

1. Clement J. Social media usage in the United States - statistics & facts. Statista website. statista.com/topics/3196/social-media-usage-in-the-united-states/. Published March 18, 2019. Accessed June 28, 2019.

2. Perrin A, Anderson M. Share of U.S. adults using social media, including Facebook, is mostly unchanged since 2018. Pew Research Center website. pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/04/10/share-of-u-s-adults-using-social-media-including-facebook-is-mostly-unchanged-since-2018/. Published April 10, 2019. Accessed June 29, 2019.

3. Hamilton LA, Franks A, Heidel RE, SLK McDonough, Suda KJ. Assessing the value of online learning and social media in pharmacy education. Am J Pharm Educ. 2016;80(6):97. doi: 10.5688/ajpe80697.