Terry Kind, MD, MPH
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
The George Washington University / Children’s National
From the latest way to share information, to dire concerns about career-ending posts, to the next new thing, where have we been and where are we going? Guidelines are essentially meant as a starting point [Kind in AMA J Ethics 2015], to encourage thoughtful posting. The same principles to guide your professional behavior in real life remain applicable in the online arena as well, but with additional considerations. Your personal and professional might blend. The voice you project --and the images you share-- are augmented. And, depending on the context, your post may be ephemeral or everlasting. Social media has transformed our communication options, and has great potential to improve healthcare, communication, and information sharing. It allows us to innovatively reach out and engage. And to listen.
We’ve crafted tips for using social media in clinical care drawing upon ethical and professional principles [Chretien and Kind in Circulation 2013] and tips for use in medical education [Kind, Patel, Lie in Pediatrics 2013 and Kind, Patel, Lie, Chretien in Med Teacher 2014]. When considering new platforms of communication, think about who you are online and offline, who is or may be reading and engaging with what you post, and what are your goals? Essentially, be a good and thoughtful citizen and share well.
What does sharing well actually mean? Just like in pediatrics where we aim to “catch a toddler being good” my colleagues and I sought to explore how medical students are using Twitter in “good” ways, such as for their professional development. Do they, and if so how? In this digital ethnographic study, we found that they do use Twitter to supplement their traditional medical school experience. It provides them with access and voice. Access, to experts and various perspectives, and to communities of support. Voice, for advocacy, and to craft their own digital identity, and to level the playing field among the various medical hierarchies. [Chretien, Tuck, Simon, Singh, Kind in JGIM 2015].
What do you need in order to post well, in addition to Wifi and a charger? We propose that in the health professions, your posting rests on a platform of public trust [Chretien and Kind in Acad Med 2014].. Consider security, that is, what online behaviors could jeopardize patient privacy and/or impact your own career security. Resting on that secure base, then reflect on your own online identity and the relationships you navigate. This sets you up to discover ways to use social media to improve health, enhance career paths (self and others) and innovate. Throughout your journey, maintain an awareness of potential challenges and opportunities.
Ultimately, you should draw upon the same principles of professionalism that you’d employ offline, as online. I shall leave you with this tweet-sized tip I once shared a few years back.
T is it thoughtful
W is it wise?
E is it educational?
E is if evidence-based?
T is it tweet-worthy?
- Kind T. Professional guidelines for social media use: a starting point. AMA J Ethics. 2015;17(5):441-7. FREE http://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/2015/05/nlit1-1505.html
- Chretien KC, Kind T. Social media and clinical care: ethical, professional, and social implications. Circulation. 2013;127(13):1413-21. FREE http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/127/13/1413.full%20
- Kind T, Patel PD, Lie DA. Opting in to online professionalism: social media and pediatrics. Pediatrics. 2013;132(5):792-5. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/132/5/792.long
- Kind T. Social media milestones: entrusting trainees to conduct themselves responsibly and professionally. J Grad Med Educ. 2014;6(1):170-1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3963781/
- Kind T, Patel PD, Lie D, Chretien KC. Twelve tips for using social media as a medical educator. Med Teach. 2014;36(4):284-90. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/0142159X.2013.852167
- Chretien KC, Tuck MG, Simon M, Singh LO, Kind T. A Digital Ethnography of Medical Students who Use Twitter for Professional Development. J Gen Intern Med. 2015;30(11):1673-80. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11606-015-3345-z
- Chretien KC, Kind T. Climbing social media in medicine's hierarchy of needs. Acad Med. 2014;89(10):1318-20. http://journals.lww.com/academicmedicine/Fulltext/2014/10000/Climbing_Social_Media_in_Medicine_s_Hierarchy_of.9.aspx FREE