Over the past few weeks, I’ve read a couple of harshly critical and frankly ill-informed articles about medical providers getting their education supplemented on social media (#SoMe), specifically Twitter. This debate around Free Open Access Meducation (#FOAM) has raged for more than half a decade. Today I will not enter that debate. Instead, I would like to talk about and showcase other reasons as to why providers flock to #medtwitter.
The internet shrank the world; #medtwitter made it a family. This community is a beehive that’s always active, sharing information with a flat hierarchical structure — asynchronous, yet omnipresent. It’s a community, unhindered by restrictions of time, space, status, geography or language. Even more so, it’s what you make of it. I came to #medtwitter for the #FOAM and stayed for the other bounties. There are multiple avenues of engagement that can appeal to a provider pertaining to advocacy, policy, wellness, burnout, equality, resilience, mentorship, and collaboration.
Today I will highlight a few such avenues (accounts, potential interactions, chats, personal accounts, and such) that amaze me in their ability to connect with medical providers not just in the United States but across the globe. As someone who started using Twitter actively in the later part of 2017, I am a staunch supporter of medical providers using #SoMe. Maybe the following list of “things to do or check out” will help users sitting undecided on the sidelines to finally make the plunge into the world of #SoMe.
We care for our patients, and nothing says that better than to advocate for them! The American Academy of Pediatrics (@AmerAcadPeds) has been a unwavering advocate for children, always striving to #PutKids1st. They are stalwartly supported by the #Tweetiatricians who are worth a follow each, should advocacy be your jam! A few favorite accounts in this sphere:
1. Esther Choo, MD (@choo_ek). Dr. Choo is an ER physician who speaks for equality and bias in medicine, besides advocating on various issues that plague medicine today.
2. Andy Slavitt (@ASlavitt). He ran Medicaid and Medicare plus the ACA for President Obama. He’s a straight shooter on all matters of medical policy.
3. Heather Sher, MD (@hshermd). Dr. Sher, a radiologist, spoke out against gun violence after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting tragedy and provides insight into why we need to #EndGunViolenceNow.
4. Megan Ranney, MD MPH (@meganranney). Dr. Ranney was recently appointed to the Rhode Island Gun Safety Working group by Gov. Raimondo. She led a revolution earlier this year that saw doctors sharing heartbreaking stories about gun violence culminating in #docs4gunsense becoming a war cry against the wanton loss of life caused by automatic and assault weapons.
5. Silent No More Foundation (@SilentNoMoreFnd). This is an organization intent on protecting healthcare workers before, during and after an assault. They bring advocacy, education, and a strong motivation to push for legislation to the table.
Fight for equality and fairness in medicine
The year 2017 was a landmark year for awareness and action on women’s rights. The #MeToo, #TimesUp, and #HeForShe movements brought focus on this vital societal issue.
1. #WomenInMedicine Chat (@womeninmedchat). This weekly chat is held every Sunday at 9 p.m. ET. It provides a solid platform for discussions regarding equal treatment of women in medicine and the issues female providers face every day.
2. FemInEM (@feminemtweets). Led by Dr. Dara Kass (@darakass) and her exceptional team, it is an avenue for women providers (and us male allies) in emergency medicine to discuss challenges and opportunities facing women in medicine. Their conference, FIX, is certainly an event to put on your calendar.
3. Girl Med Media (@GirlMedMedia). This non-profit group will be hosting its inaugural conference, Girl Med Live, this year in Dallas, TX in November. They bring women’s voices from all spheres of medicine together and are led by another one my #medtwitter sheroes, Dr. Clinical Pearl (@ClinicalPearl).
Burnout, resilience, and wellness
If you are passionate about these burning (pun intended) issues in healthcare and training, seek no more. #medtwitter is here to listen, support, collaborate and bring change forth.
Sumit Patel, MD (@S_P_MD) started a discussion about being healthy and the importance of it. Lots of great tips and motivational posts to check out at the recently minted #HealthyInHC. He also gave us this gem: #medpups. Find your daily puppy fix and share a picture of your #medtwitterpet with us all. Sound childish? It is a relief to know we are together in this, so try it! In fact, while you are there, live a little and follow Thoughts of Dog (@dog_feelings); you can thank me later!
Emotional outlet and support
Who said medicine was easy? No one. But, that does not mean we have to internalize and not be able to speak about it. Follow The Haunted One (@thosewecarry) and experience a collective outlet for your pent up emotions that you have date carried home and loved with daily. It’s led by an exceptional international team of providers and they are by themselves forces to reckon with.
One of the team members, Mitochondrial Eve (@BrowofJustice), has recently started her podcast in which she provides a voice to these stories, besides sharing her own experiences as a nurse, a patient, and a caring human. Caution is advised since some of the stories come with trigger warnings for emotional distress, abuse and suicide.
Collaboration and mentorship
In my less than 1 year of activity on twitter, I have been lucky enough to find and be supported by mentors and collaborators spanning the specialties of EM, pediatrics, anesthesia, critical care, and internal medicine. With this amazing team that I found on Twitter, we have achieved quite a bit so far: a review article about to be published, a poster on #SoMe in #MedEd upcoming at #ATS2018, a manuscript in drafting stages, multiple blog posts, a podcast with the CORE IM team (@CoreIMpodcast), a project on partner burnout under IRB exemption review, a workshop at #ATS2018 and an upcoming primer series with CanadaiEM (@WeAreCanadiEM).
Healthcare leadership and technology in medicine
The #HCLDR chat, hosted by HCLDR Moderator (@hcldr), has become a weekly fixture on my calendar. The chat occurs every Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. ET. They discuss a variety of issues pertaining to being a leader in healthcare, including new frontiers. Perhaps my favorite part is that providers, patients, advocates, and leaders come together to come up with some phenomenal ideas! The Harvard Macy Institute (@harvardmacy) account is another good stepping stone for those interested in medical education and leadership.
I look forward to seeing some of you peeking your heads into the twittersphere. Join a conversation, say hello, ask questions, post a friendly gif, make a friend, join a colleague on a venture, and mostly find yourself a digital corner of support and a #medtwitter tribe.