As part of our SGIM Social Media Workshop “From Twitter to Tenure” our workshop lineup of ‘twitterati’ will be posting each day this week about how social media affected their career. So yesterday was @AlexSmithMD on GeriPal. Here is the schedule for the week: Monday – me (@FutureDocs) here on Futuredocs; Tuesday – Bob Centor (@medrants) on DB’s Medical Rants; Wednesday – Kathy Chretien (@MotherinMed) on Mother’s in Medicine; Thursday – Eric Widera (@ewidera) on GeriPal (and hope to see you in Phoenix for our workshop!)
For the Twitter to Tenure workshop at this year’s Society of General Internal Medicine Meeting, I was asked to think about how social media enhanced my career. This may sound ridiculous at first- after all, social media is a big waste of time right? Wrong as some of you have discovered. Social media has opened doors for me by connecting me to a variety of people I would not have met. Here is just a brief list of the ways social media has impacted my academic career.
- Media interviews – I was interviewed by Dr Pauline Chen through the New York Times who located me through – you guessed it Twitter! She actually approached me for the interview by direct messaging me through Twitter. She was following me and noticed my interests in handoffs on my Google profile which is linked to my Twitter account. She was also very encouraging when I started the blog which was exciting!
- Workshop presentations- I presented a workshop on social media in medical education (#SMIME as we like to call it), at 2 major medical meetings with 3 others (including @MotherInMed who encouraged me to start a blog and also is my copresenter at SGIM). The idea was borne on Twitter…and the first time I actually met one of the workshop presenters (who I knew on Twitter) was at the workshop.
- Acquired new skills – My workshop co-presenter who I only knew through Twitter ended up being Carrie Saarinen, an instructional technologist (a very cool job and every school needs one!). She is an amazing resource and taught me how to do a wiki. After my period of ‘lurking’, I started my own ‘course’ wiki dedicated to helping students do research and scholarly work which we are launching in a week.
- Lecture invitations – Several of my lecture invitations come through social media. Most notably, I was invited to speak for an AMSA webinar on handoffs and also speak to the Committee of Interns and Residents on teaching trainees about cost conscious medicine. Both invitations started with a reference to finding me through Twitter or the blog.
- Committee invitations – I am now on the SGIM communications task force as a result of my interest in social media. Our most recent effort was a piece about ‘tweeting the meeting’ with @medrants and an older piece focused on the top Twitter Myths and Tips.
- Grant opportunities – I recently submitted a grant with an organization that I learned of on Twitter – Initially, I had contacted Neel Shah from Costs of Care asking him if they had a curriculum on healthcare costs. They did not, but were interested in writing a grant to develop a curriculum so they brought my team on board and we submitted together (fingers crossed).
- Dissemination - One of the defining features of scholarship (the currency of promotion in academic medical centers) is that it has to be shared. Well, social media is one of the most powerful ways to share information. In a recent example, we entered a social media contest media video contest on the media sharing site Slideshare. Using social media, we were able to obtain the most number of ‘shares’ on Facebook on Twitter which led to the most number of views and ultimately won ‘Best Professional Video.’ To date, this video, has received over 13,000 views, which I was able to highlight as a form of ‘dissemination’ in a recent meeting with our Chairman about medical education scholarship. While digital scholarship is still under investigation with vocal critics and enthusiastic proponents debating the value of digital scholarship in academia, digital scholarship does appear to have a place for spreading nontraditional media that cannot be shared via peer review.
Part of being a good citizen on social media is giving back. I try to give back when I can through helping anyone who contacts me for something specific – so I have read personal statements, reviewed websites, and offered input to others who are interested in my perspective on their work. I can’t always keep up since I have a day job and alas, this is an extracurricular activity. The good news is a tweet is only 140 characters – so like the blue bird, I can keep it short but sweet.
–Vineet Arora, MD