Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Medical Educator Joins Social Media: One Year Later

I just realized that yesterday was my one-year “anniversary” for joining Twitter.  Wow, what a ride it has been.  I have learned so much in this short year.  Here are a few take-home points:
1.      If physicians and other health care professionals are not becoming involved in social media, they are missing out on a “place” where many of the patients already are.
2.      Despite #1, there are late adopters who feel that social media is a “waste of time” for physicians.  That is ok.  Forcing them to “do social networking” will not be fruitful.
3.      Social media is a fantastic way to meet other like-minded individuals who have similar interests.  I never would have met a great group of people (some in real life) had I not joined social media.
4.      Patients crave information about their health.  If they want it via social networking routes, we should offer it to them.
5.      There is a lot of mis-information floating around on the internet.  It is a duty of physicians to combat this and provide correct information.  I fail to understand why physicians don’t embrace this more: it is advocacy in the truest sense!
6.      If you decide to join social media, start slow, but start.  It will take a while, like riding a bike is not learned in 15 minutes.
7.      Do not let social media take over your life.  The important things (family, friends, etc.) are still the important things, so don’t lose the priorities.
8.      Push the envelope.  It is time for curricula in social media within medical education to be formally written, and also to be disseminated.  Policies or guidelines are one thing, but curricula are another.
9.      There are many “tools” to make it easier to integrate social media into “what you do”.  Pick one or two, and use them.  It will make the process less overwhelming.
10.   Have fun!  There is some great learning, and in addition there are some fun people out there, and I am a better person for having met them virtually.

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