Social Media as a Platform for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

By: Brandee Branche, MD; Kristian Black, MS, MD; Meidee Goh, MD; Juan Andino, MBA, MD; Khurshid R Ghani, MBChB, MS, FRCS | Posted on: 01 Apr 2022

In the corporate world, it is increasingly clear that organizations with a diverse and inclusive workforce have improved levels of performance and innovation.1 Health care is no different. Studies have shown that increasing the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) of employees within health care is associated with improved patient outcomes, reductions in health disparities and potential health care cost savings.2 Within our field, the AUA Diversity and Inclusion Task Force has been tasked with identifying actionable steps to improve DEI in urology. Current census projections predict that by 2044, the majority of the United States population will belong to a minority group other than non-Hispanic White. Yet data show an opposite trend, with a decline in underrepresented minority (URM) candidates in medicine matriculating into a urology residency.4 While multiple stakeholders will be involved in developing DEI initiatives, an important platform that can disseminate and accelerate the changes we yearn to see is social media networks. In this article we discuss how social media have been used to increase awareness of DEI, how various societies and institutions are using them as a tool for change, and discuss the growing body of peer review literature on these topics.

Use of Social Media to Increase Awareness of DEI

Social media can be an important vehicle for the promotion and execution of DEI initiatives. In a study evaluating the use of Twitter chats to increase awareness of studies discussing gender equity issues in medicine, it was found that this improved the impact of the articles as measured by the Altmetric score, and significantly increased the number of downloads and readership.5 Twitter led to a robust discussion with crowdsourcing of ideas for addressing gender equity issues. The role of public outreach and DEI recruitment strategies in academic science through social media has not only been encouraged, but it has also been suggested that these engagement activities should have weight in merit, tenure and promotion assessments for academic physicians.6 Increasingly, social media strategy will be an important lever for academic institutions and programs as they advance initiatives focusing on DEI.

What Are Societies and Institutions Doing to Promote DEI through Social Media?

Multiple specialties have been trying to understand how to best use social media to diversify the workforce pipeline. Recently, the Journal of the American College of Radiology published an article on leveraging social media for DEI recruitment.7 During the 2020 virtual application cycle for radiology, more than 50% of programs used social media for highlighting, advancing and promoting DEI initiatives.

Some urology residency programs have embraced this by establishing new initiatives to promote DEI. Most of the recruitment for these endeavors has occurred on social media, allowing accessibility for prospective URM urology applicants to engage regardless of geography, cost considerations or other limitations. One example is the University of California–San Francisco’s (UCSF) UReTER (UnderRepresented Trainees Entering Residency) mentorship program (@UCSFUrology) that connects urology residents across the country with URM applicants.

The Michigan Urology Academy (#MUA21) and UroVersity (@UroVersity_UM) programs, developed by the Department of Urology at the University of Michigan, have also tried to address URM recruitment. Preliminary data on who is participating in these efforts are promising. Activity on Twitter for the Michigan Urology Academy this year led to more than 43,000 impressions. Candidates included 52% women, 43% Black/African American, 12% Hispanic/Latinx and 17% multiracial/-ethnic individuals. Importantly, 51% of these candidates did not have a home urology program for mentorship, showing how important this virtual outreach can be to promote diverse candidates toward successful entry into urology. Table 1 provides a list of relevant organizations, both outside and within urology, that have taken an active role in creating virtual communities to promote DEI through social media.

Table 1. Organizations and communities involved in promoting DEI initiatives on social media

Society/Community Title Mission Social Media Platforms Relevant Hashtags
The Student National Medical Association (SNMA)
  • Support underrepresented minority (URM) medical students
  • Addressing needs of underserved communities
  • Increasing culturally competent physicians
  • Facebook: Multiple SNMA regional and medical school-based chapters
  • Twitter: @SNMA, @SNMA_MAPS
  • Instagram: @snma_official
The Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA)
  • Empowering current and future physicians through service, mentorship, education
  • Education to advocate for improved health of Hispanic & Latina/o/x community in the U.S.
  • Provide community for Latino medical students
  • Facebook: Multiple LMSA regional and medical school-based chapters
  • Twitter: @LMSANational
  • Instagram: @lmsanational
National Medical Association
  • Oldest national organization representing African American physicians and their patients in the U.S.
  • Facebook: @NationalMedAssn
  • Twitter: @NationalMedAssn
  • Instagram: @nationalmedassn
R. Frank Jones Urological Society
  • Support Black American Urologists in efforts to care for patients, goal to reduce health care disparities for Black people with urologic conditions
  • Facebook: R. Frank Jones Urological Society; @BlackUrologists
  • Twitter: @rfrankjones_uro
  • Instagram: @rfjonesurologicalsociety
Society of Women in Urology, Inc.
  • Support women in urology by providing networking and resources for women urologists
  • Diversifying the urology workforce by advancing women in urology
  • Facebook: Society of Women in Urology- SWIU page• Twitter: @SWIUorg
  • Instagram: @swiuorg

Michigan Urology Academy (MUA)
  • University of Michigan urology department program established to increased diversity in urology particularly among URM and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds
  • Twitter: @UMichUrology
Common Twitter hashtags associated with promotion of the program: #UroSOME #DEI #URMinUrology #MUA20 #MUA21
  • University of Michigan pipeline initiative to connect first year medical students with mentors in urology to increase exposure to the field
  • Twitter: @UroVersity_UM
UCSF UReTER (UnderRepresented Trainees Entering Residency) mentorship program
  • UCSF urology department mentorship program that includes urology residents across the US to connect residents with applicants who are URM
  • Twitter: Previously posted under @UCSFUrology
LatinX in Urology
  • Online community through Twitter to unify the LatinX in urology community
  • Twitter: @LatinXUro
Urologists for Equity
  • Online community through Twitter to promote DEI in urology through advocacy, sponsorship, scholarship and engagement
  • Twitter: @UroForEquity
  • Online community through Instagram with curated content celebrating female surgeons
  • Instagram: @i_look_like_a_surgeon
    Related content: Instagram: @scalpeltoher
Black Men in White Coats
  • Movement established to support young African American men and boys who dream to become medical doctors
  • Facebook: @BlackMenInWhiteCoats
  • Twitter: @TeamBMWC
Urology Unbound: Urology Interest Group
  • Committed to recruiting, retaining, and promoting Black urologists and increasing diversity in urology
  • Facebook: @urologyunbound
  • Twitter: @UroUnbound_IG
  • Instagram: @urologyunbound
  • International group of urologists and trainees interested in utility of social media in urology
  • Twitter: @so_uro

Peer-Reviewed Literature on DEI in Urology

As noted by this special edition, the AUA Publications Office is committed to raising awareness of DEI initiatives in our field. The Journal of Urology® is the number 1 urological journal on Twitter, with over 36,000 followers. It therefore has a prominent role in disseminating peer-reviewed content through social media. Table 2 highlights recent studies focused on diversity, equity and disparities published in @JUrology and @UrologyPractice. All of these articles have been promoted through the journals’ social media channels, where access to articles is free for the first 60 days after publication. These efforts increase media attention and citation of journal content.8

Table 2. Recent peer-reviewed articles on diversity-related issues in @JUrology and @UrologyPractice

Article Name Web Link to Access Article
Representation in Online Prostate Cancer Content Lacks Racial and Ethnic Diversity: Implications for Black and Latinx Men
Socioeconomic Factors, Urological Epidemiology and Practice Patterns
Translating Patient-Centered Research into Educational Resources to Address Racial Inequities in Prostate Cancer
Race-Specific Trends in Prostate Cancer Screening and Presentation before and after the 2012 United States Preventive Services Task Force Statement
Lessons Learned: Social Determinants of Health Screening Pilot in 2 Urology Clinics
Development and Validation of Urological and Appearance Domains of the Post-Affirming Surgery Form and Function Individual Reporting Measure (AFFIRM) for Transwomen following Genital Surgery
The American Board of Urology: In Pursuit of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Disparities in Kidney Stone Disease: A Scoping Review
A Comparison of Image-Guided Targeted Prostate Biopsy Outcomes by PI-RADS® Score and Ethnicity in a Diverse, Multiethnic Population
Finasteride Use and Risk of Bladder Cancer in a Multiethnic Population

In a recent study, Loeb and colleagues assessed how the urological community responded on Twitter to the hashtag #ILookLikeAUrologist, which has been used to encourage greater female representation in urology.9 In their study period, this hashtag was used in over 3,600 tweets by 1,348 unique contributors from 35 countries, reaching a large global audience with over 8 million impressions. An analysis of these tweets determined gender was the most common theme; however, other saliant themes included personal narratives, opinions and camaraderie. Studies like this lay the framework for investigating causal relationships between online DEI content and real-world implications.


Social media are an increasingly important communication tool for advocacy, education and building a sense of community. As programs move from discussion to enacting change, future work will assess whether engagement in social media translates to improved diversity across gender, race, ethnicity and other demographic characteristics. Importantly, there has to be greater rigor in evaluating the benefits and pitfalls of using social media for DEI initiatives. In particular, social media can tend to propagate what is popular, and sometimes only the loudest voices get noticed. However, it is our belief that social media can be a great “leveler”–providing access and encouragement for medical students who may not necessarily consider urology to be a home for them. Future work has to identify metrics to determine success, and assess whether current efforts are resulting in a more diverse and inclusive workforce. This will help to clarify what methods work and what do not. This will allow our profession to focus resources on initiatives that make a lasting impact.

  1. Hunt V, Layton D and Prince S: Why Diversity Matters. McKinsey and Company. Available at Accessed February 19, 2022.
  2. Rosenkranz KM, Arora TK, Termuhlen PM et al: Diversity, equity and inclusion in medicine: why it matters and how do we achieve it? J Surg Educ 2021; 78: 1058.
  3. Black K, Qin Y, Sarma A et al: The future of the urologic workforce: assessing annual population trends of underrepresented minorities in urology residency programs. Available at
  4. Association of American Medical Colleges: Underrepresented in Medicine Definition. Available at Accessed February 19, 2022.
  5. Cawcutt KA, Erdahl LM, Englander MJ et al: Use of a coordinated social media strategy to improve dissemination of research and collect solutions related to workforce gender equity. J Womens Health (Larchmt) 2019; 28: 849.
  6. Yammine SZ, Liu C, Jarreau PB et al: Social media for social change in science. Science 2018; 360: 162.
  7. Johnson JL, Bhatia N, West DL et al: Leveraging social media and Web presence to discuss and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in radiology. J Am Coll Radiol 2022; 19: 207.
  8. Hayon S, Tripathi H, Stormont IM et al: Twitter mentions and academic citations in the urologic literature. Urology 2019; 123: 28.
  9. Loeb S, Byrne NK, Thakker S et al: #ILookLikeAUrologist: using Twitter to discuss diversity and inclusion in urology. Eur Urol Focus 2021; 7: 890.