We live in an emotionally digital age.
Feelings at face value have been traded for feelings on Facebook. We no longer emote without the necessary hashtag preface — we’re not just happy anymore, we’re #happy.
The ease propagated by social networks — from professional outlets like LinkedIn to the many components making up the blogosphere, back further to the virtual community patriots, Facebook and Twitter — is one too seductive to deny entirely or outright. Thus, the silly concessions and additions that we adopt, hastag or J, eventually become worthwhile pieces in the cultural scheme of things — they further integrate us into a universal experience, bring us all together.
But at some point, on the professional plain in particular, online social networking operates more as the great divider rather than the great unifier. For physicians, more so than any other profession it seems, one post of off-the-cuff passion could cause the entire practice network to crumble. For physicians and docs-to-be, there is so much at stake.
And yet, patients want deep connections with the people aiding in the care of their bodies, just as they would with any other intimate association. Should they be denied of this want? It’s an industry Catch-22, but perhaps it can be made more concise if approached on a different foot.
That foot? A training module for all tweets, memes, gifs, posts and any other expressive goofs. Like table manners, proper professional tweet etiquette must be learned. Just as a child doesn’t approach the table for the first time knowing what each fork means or what it’s best used for, business professionals don’t come to this new medium fully cognizant of what can be put in a post and how that content could affect their professional and personal branding.
So what if organizations and practices composed a training module, much like those required for other components of the workplace (safety, HIPAA, how to navigate corporate relationships, etc.) to better acquaint employees with the potential hazards and benefits of such tools? What if medical schools incorporated such material in their curricula? Would the country’s physicians not be more aware of how to navigate successfully the slippery slope of what could be a grand peak of prosperity?
There’s no harm, here — just an investment that’s been proven to really pay off in the long run. (Pamela Lewis Dolan’s amednews article points out some of social medias benefits.)
What’s more, as Mike Sevilla mentioned in a post on Health Care Communication News, its time for physicians to let patients know the lengths they will go to further enhance the doc-patient relationship.
“From a family medicine standpoint, it is my passion to help my FamMed colleagues try to overcome this lack of confidence. Family Medicine has let our specialty be defined by others because we have not been able or willing to tell our own story about why we're important to patient care and the health care of our country.”
“We need to speak up,” Sevilla concluded.
And the more informed the speech, the better it’ll be received.