I’ve been on Twitter for almost a couple of years now and when I talk to people about it, I still get a healthy dose of skepticism.
So I’ve put together a top ten list of why as a physician and medical educator, I use Twitter.
10: Connecting with Leaders
To be lead, you must know what your leaders are thinking. Twitter has made leaders accessible. Now, instead of spending time looking for their opinions or hoping to catch a handshake or meeting at a conference, they send their thoughts directly to me, in small increments of 140 characters, everyday!
9: Connecting with Followers
As physicians, you are a leader. Whether it ‘s in your office, your patient panel, your learners, your colleagues, your academic society, you have the opportunity (and responsibility? ) to lead and lead effectively. Twitter allows you to share your thoughts in small increments, reach a vast audience with minimal effort. Quoting #10, “To be lead, you must know what your leaders are thinking.”
The importance of professional networking cannot be understated. Twitter easily connects people with similar interests. In less than 2 years, I have been able to access a vast network of people interested in things that are important to me such as Primary Care, Medical Education, Social Media, Evidence Based Medicine and Healthcare Technology. In the past, networking for me occurred in spurts, at pre-determined locations over a finite period of time. With Twitter, networking happens 24/7, with little effort no matter where you are (and in your pajamas, while watching tv!).
7: It makes me an active learner.
All through my education I took notes. Writing things down helped solidify that piece of knowledge. A notebook was also useful for exams, reviewing and reinforcing information. Now instead of a notebook, I have a tablet and instead of a piece of paper, I use twitter. The 140 character limitations forces me to be succinct which makes my virtual notebook very easy to review.
6: I can educate the world
This is a grandiose statement, but Twitter makes it real. As a Medical Educator, I take pride in being able to influence the learners in my immediate proximity. With Twitter I can take all those notes (See reason #7) and broadcast it to learners in other cities, states, countries and continents! Currently I’m using the the hashtag #sbmgr to broadcast what we’re learning in our Internal Medicine Grand Rounds every Wednesday 8:30 to 9:30 AM.
5: I can attend multiple conferences simultaneously, year round.
Until human cloning technology advances, Twitter is the best way to be at multiple places at once. I wish I could attend every medical conference out there. But thanks to people who prescribe to reason #7, I can virtually attend other conferences through my smart phone, all throughout the year. There are thousands of people out there like myself, live tweeting from conferences. This year, I personally attended ACP and APDIM live tweeting from both. But in addition, while being back home, I followed the tweets from Kidney Week and Chest in the past couple of months.
4: It’s a forum for debate
Healthy debate is part of our lives as physicians. New guidelines and treatments are always coming up, and Twitter I get immediate access to viewpoints from a wide variety of people. I often get immediate feedback on my own opinions.
3: My mom taught me to share
We are all online, all the time. As a physician, I’m always finding a great journal article, an interesting blog, or an important news article. Before twitter, I had no mechanism to share that, besides e-mailing to a small set of people or writing it down somewhere and hope that I have an opportunity to suggest it to people. Now, every website has a Twitter link. You see something cool, you can share it with a large audience with just a few clicks.
2: The world at any given moment
Whenever I have a free moment, Twitter is my go to activity. In 2 minutes, I can scroll through a myriad of messages and get a burst of information from a network of my choosing. So it’s whether pumping gas, waiting for an elevator, a 15 minute lunch, a commercial break during the football game, Twitter helps me use these small snippets of time, constructively.
1: It broadens my mind
In patient care we are emphasizing a team-based approach that values the roles of every individual in a healthcare team. The same can be said for my continuing medical education. I think I have something to learn, from everyone. As a result I follow folks in Internal Medicine, sub-specialties, family medicine, psychiatry, surgery and so on. I follow nurses, physical therapists, social workers and patient advocates. I follow patients (not my own) sharing the story of their medical conditions. I am learning something from everyone from the palm of my hand.
If this doesn’t get you interested in Twitter, here’s a a blog post from someone who’s listed 140 Health Care uses for Twitter
In addition, here’s another post to help you make the leap.
This is written by Dr. Vineet Arora who is Director of GME Clinical Learning Environment Innovation and Assistant Dean of Scholarship & Discovery at the Pritzker School of Medicine for the University of Chicago.