Social media has invaded every career and medicine is no exception. It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t use social media and finding one is like finding a rare element. That person becomes partially known for his or her lack of use of social media. Doctors are no exception. I doubt you’ll find any physician who’s not on social media. Doctors have loved ones and friends that they like to check up on too in order to know everyone’s doing great. They’re also humans who like sharing vacation pictures and things about them. People use social media in different ways. Some only occasionally share anything about themselves or even comment or reply on things others post while others are a lot more interactive. For doctors using social media can be a little more sensitive especially when it comes to accepting patients as friends or followers and what to share with them.
There are a few main types of categories that doctors fit into online. One of these is basically being a doctor all the time. They mostly post medical knowledge and spread awareness to their followers. They may even share important posts from accounts such as the CDC or the WHO in order to better inform the public. Some of them offer advice to medical students and junior doctors. They teach them how to deal with situations they might find stressful and give them some of their own personal experience. Knowledge oriented doctors may even post trivia questions for med students. These doctors are really beneficial and are mostly followed by medical students and younger doctors because they serve as mentors to them and provide them with insight. The downside of their profiles is that they can be pretty boring to scroll through. You’ll rarely find a picture and you probably won’t find anything personal or emotional on their accounts. It’s all medical info. They probably won’t be following that many people either because they’re not interested in interacting with others. You interact with them, but they probably won’t interact with you. These accounts are useful and needed by the general population in order to debunk fake medical information but at the same time they’re barely any fun.
Next there are the doctors who mock whatever it is they feel should be mocked. They don’t care about the status quo or whether or not a lot of people agree with them. They don’t do it to be popular or as doctor social media marketing. In fact these accounts will usually be anonymous because they’re not the kind of doctors you want working for you because they’ll challenge you if they think what you decide or want to do is wrong. They’re not afraid of calling out pharmaceutical or insurance companies for doing things that harm others, especially patients. I suppose it’s possible to call them the rebels of the medical industry. Like I said they’ll probably be posting through anonymous blogs or twitter accounts and won’t reveal who they really are. It’s important to follow them and read what they have to say because some of it can be eye opening and make you pay attention to things you didn’t know about. If you’re looking for an account that posts medical information, gives advice, and interacts with patients then these guys aren’t what you’re looking for.
Similar to the previous kind of doctors are the doctors who are always ahead of the curve. They’re opinions aren’t controversial or frowned upon. They don’t threaten the status quo. They don’t attack any kind of industry. They post their thoughts and that’s pretty much it. They post the kind of thoughts that make you think “yeah, that makes a lot of sense.” They don’t get too emotional or carried away with the things they right. They’re composed, calm, and usually very professional. Basically they seem like leaders and more often than not they actually are. They’re the leaders of communities and medical teams. Some people just have that kind of charisma that makes them leaders and gives them the reasoning that makes other people want to follow them. If they weren’t doctors you’d still be amazed by their tweets because they resonate with you. I advise that you follow this type of doctors on social media because they will add to your life. It’s like reading a good book that adds a lot to your thought process, philosophy, and how you view everything in life. Except in this case you get to read a little part of what they think each day. Their accounts serve as such a great image for them that it’s basically doctor marketing except they don’t write for that purpose.
The next kind of social media doctor isn’t really flattering. They don’t inspire you nor do they open your eyes to and make fun of things that go against logic in the world. They don’t supply you with boring yet valuable medical information such as how to breastfeed or when to take the flu shot each year. They’re the doctors who can get too emotional and don’t know how to control what they write. They reveal their emotions fiercely online and without holding back. They comment on everything and will always have opinions on hot topics; unfortunately these opinions aren’t always thought through very well and can make them seem unprofessional. They may even seem to contradict themselves at times as a result of being controlled by their own emotions too much. This can make them attack others with contrasting opinions and unfortunately may drive people away. It can also drive patients away if they end up getting into an argument with a patient over a topic such as the elections for instance. It’s important for doctors to practice self restraint and learn to think things through before they post them on the internet and get into arguments.
Finally we have your average person. They don’t log in to their online accounts thinking “I’m a doctor.” They log in just like anyone else. They post about their lives with no restraints. Your timeline will be flooded with pictures of cats, cheesy quotes, and useless posts. We all know people who behave this way online and they’re the uninhibited people in our lives who just have fun and share anything they find cute or lovely. The downside is that the things they post and their demonstration of their emotions can make them look unprofessional. You don’t want your doctor to post about their break up and how sad they are. Your doctor is someone who is strong. The person who holds things together when you can’t so imagining them in tears won’t make you feel that way. You also need a doctor who is completely focused on you and making your life better. If you know they’re going through a hard time then subconsciously you’ll know they’re not fully focused and that might make it more difficult to trust their decisions.
The way someone is online usually reflects how they are face to face. Someone who is sarcastic and won’t have a problem telling you when you’re doing something that’s bad for you will probably be the eye opening funny guy online too. A person who’s serious a lot of the time and is straight to the point will be the first kind of doctor we talked about, the one who just posts facts and maybe some experience to help young doctors but not much else. If you’re a doctor and find yourself fitting into one of the last two categories we talked about then maybe it’s best to avoid having patients find you or befriending them on social media. No one can tell you what to post and write about, but it might hurt your practice if patients think you can’t separate your work life from your personal one.
Which kind of doctor are you on social media and has it affected your practice?