There is huge potential to use social media to make contacts, form networks and connect with like-minded people for both work and play. For instance, it is possible to access a world-wide pool of clinical expertise by posting clinical questions or photos (appropriately de-identified) to seek a second opinion or management advice. To see an example of this, see Dr Minh Le Cong’s storify record of a two-day epic twitter debate about the use of troponin in low risk chest pain at http://storify.com/rfdsdoc/chest-pain-in-general-practice-who-owns-the-trop.
Closer to home, the Australian GP twitter community is an inclusive and supportive bunch of people who regularly discuss issues, debate hot topics, throw ideas around and share anecdotes. It’s a great way to feel connected to peers and to reduce isolation, which is particularly valuable for those in rural, remote and solo practice. It’s not unusual for these online relationships to turn into “real life” contacts, with tweeters often meeting up socially at conferences or when travelling. With the power of social media, it’s now possible to have friends and colleagues all over the country to catch up with in the flesh for a quiet drink or two.
Specific areas of interest can be discussed by using hashtags. Examples include #GPexams13 for registrars preparing for college exams, #supertwision for discussing social media in GP supervision and #hcsmanz (Healthcare & Social Media in Australia & New Zealand) which hosts regular chats on Sunday evenings.
Check out https://twitter.com/EdwinKruys/aust-general-practice/members for a list of tweeting Australian GPs created by Dr Edwin Kruys.
Social Media is also a good way of sourcing talent to collaborate on projects, be they research, teaching, clinical or other. Foam4gp.com started off as an idea between social media colleagues, and indeed the socialmediagp.org team predominantly came together via social media too! Have a look at the ruraldoctors.net, prehospitalmed.com and broomedocs.com blogs to see great examples of collaboration on educational content.
Above all, doctors use social media because it’s fun, as anyone who as ever got swept up in a pun-fest with @DrSallyCockburn can attest! Every day you can discover new and interesting articles, funny links, thought-provoking discussions and memorable anecdotes which help to make us well rounded as doctors and people.
A list of 224 doctors on Twitter from all over the world: http://list.ly/list/4V1-top-doctors-on-twitter
A directory of Twitter Doctors with 1023 registered and more joining every day; currently 21 listed in Australia: