I’m part of the “Millennials” class of physicians. Depending on the source you read, it’s generally characterized as people born between the years 1982-2004, give or take a couple years on either end of that date range. We’re learning a great deal from our senior medical professionals, also known as Attendings. These are our predecessors – the mentors we look up to, to learn the bread and butter techniques as well as secrets of the trade. Like many other resident doctors, I still rely heavily on traditional methods of learning, including textbooks and question banks, but there is another movement afoot.
That movement – albeit a slow movement – is physicians learning and discussing healthcare topics online (examples on Twitter: #meded, #hcsm, #FOAM). Hashtag it whatever you want, it’s essentially anyone in healthcare who spends time disseminating information about the trade – online. Physicians play a key role in healthcare, however I still feel (anecdotally speaking) that we are lagging behind a bit. There are but just a few active residents and fellows on Twitter. This leaves a large void in the social media world.
Prominent online physician presences like KevinMD illustrate why it’s important for doctors to at least establish a footprint online, and I agree. It’s the norm; people look to our social media profile(s) for more about us. The articles, comments, photos, and videos we post today may influence a patient to come see us in hospital A or clinic Z; a high school student to consider pre-medicine; a premed student to continue on the grueling path and get accepted into medical school; a medical student to choose a specialty and strive for the residency program of choice; and a resident to learn more about a sub-specialty field. The opportunities to influence are numerous and far too many for me to account in one simple blog post.
I actively search and link to other young physicians on Twitter. I enjoy reading posts in my spare time, whether those are micro-updates on Twitter to full-length articles and blog posts on reputable websites. It keeps me updated on things that are happening within my profession across the U.S. and World in real-time. The beauty of the modern world is that we have so many efficient ways to talk to one another; it is unprecedented. So, let’s use this powerful technology to help other people. It can be other doctors, PAs, NPs, registered nurses, or the general public – physicians should feel comfortable in their own professional online presence to educate and assist.