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Leveraging Social Media as an Educational Tool to Improve Knowledge of Ambulatory Care Pharmacy

November 19, 2020

By Julie Gould

jarred prudencioRecent research findings published online in Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning, showed a positive correlation between the use of an educational Instagram account and pharmacy student knowledge of ambulatory care in pharmacy.

“This project utilized the social media platform Instagram, which focuses upon posting images with accompanied captions, as a supplemental learning tool,” the study authors highlighted.

To better understand the study, we spoke with lead author Jarred Prudencio, PharmD, BCACP, BC-ADM, assistant professor, The Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy, University of Hawai'i at Hilo. Dr Prudencio explained how the use of the Instagram profile helped improve the knowledge of students who engaged in the social media account.

What existing data led you and your co‑investigators to conduct this research?

I think there's a lot of information or interest among health care educators in terms of leveraging social media for education. There wasn't one or two existing things that really caught my eye, but the data regarding Instagram was really not published much.

That's actually why I wanted to start this project. There's a lot of evidence behind social media as a whole but not so much around a visual platform.

Can you briefly describe your study and the findings? Of those findings, were any of them particularly surprising?

I have a third‑year pharmacy school course in which students participate in a one‑week rotation in a family medicine clinic, which is called ambulatory care. What I did was I created an Instagram account that was a professional Instagram account focused on educational pearls using infographics.

I notified the students at the start of the semester that it was available as an option. They got to decide whether or not they wanted to follow it or not. It was not randomized. Surprisingly, about half of them followed it, and about half of them didn't.

The students had a pretest prior to the rotation and then a posttest at the end of the semester. We were looking to see if the students who engaged in the supplemental Instagram account had a higher finding, a higher score, at the posttest. We did find that to be pretty significant.

What are some of the possible real‑world applications of these findings in day‑to‑day clinical practice?

This focused on health care education. It was really focused on how do we teach students? In real‑life educational sessions, a lot of faculty could do this to help teach their students outside of the classroom and to supplement their education.

As far as clinical practice, this is kind of a stretch from my findings, but another area that could be explored is population health and public health, educating patients. That could be another study, is using Instagram to educate the general public about health care considerations.

Do you intend to expand upon your current research?

I do. That finding is a fairly small sample size. It was one of my classes, which is about 70 students. I would like to expand into a larger audience. Since this started, my Instagram account has now over 16,000 followers.

I'm hoping to be able to use that large audience to be able to see if this project can be replicated with similar results. Right now, we're in the process of figuring out how to logistically do that.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I think that social media, especially right now during COVID, is very active and very much a way of people getting news, whether it's health care or not. I think a lot of health care providers should get onto social media to try and combat misinformation. The more valid information that we have out there, the better.

If you are interested in following Dr Prudencio's Instagram, the account name is: @AmbCareRx

About Dr Prudencio:

Jarred Prudencio is a clinical pharmacist. He practices in the ambulatory care setting in a primary care and family medicine clinic. He is also an Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice and Chief of Experiential Education at the University of Hawaii College of Pharmacy.


Prudencio J, Wongwiwatthananukit S, Lozana A, Xu Y. Instagram as a tool to enhance pharmacy student learning of ambulatory care pharmacy [published online October 8, 2020]. Curr Pharm Teach Learn. doi:

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