Friday, May 11, 2012

#FOAMed - Twitter...More Than Bieber Fever

The Gist:  Social media like Twitter can have great utility for medical students, residents, and professionals and, in my opinion, encourages active learning. One has the option to listen or join in to conversations happening around the globe.  Check out this article and scroll to the bottom of this entry for practical/technical tips.

The Case (of the Twitter Convert):  I revel in existing as an efficiency machine.  This serves as my way of cultivating a professional/medical/student life while allowing time to maintain my personal life and interests.  I listen to podcasts and lectures at the gym and during commutes.  Similarly, I follow blogs by checking Feedly as I sip my morning coffee or on my iPhone Feedly app whenever I'm waiting on something. And then?  Then, I discovered Twitter.

I didn't intend to join Twitter.  In fact, I scoffed when a friend predicted that I would soon have a Twitter account and manage to "ruin" this popular culture haven of pop stars and foodie pictures with medical tweets.  He was right; however, I discovered I was in good company in the Emergency Medicine world.

It's a stream of continuous goodness!  Upon joining, it seemed as though I was sitting in the audience at the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM) conference whilst seeing 35 patients a day in a rural Alabama family medicine clinic.  Attendees linked presentations and pictures while disseminating core messages from lectures.  Additionally, I gained an inside view of medical education.  The experience felt like cheating as I learned more about the residency and medical student education process.  Since that time, I've networked with medical providers and educators around the world.  I've virtually attended more conferences than I can count, participating in some such as the Social Media and Critical Care conference.  In fact, Neill et al, analyzed the impact of Twitter on the International Conference on Emergency Medicine 2012.  Questions are answered quickly and debates frequently occur.

Recommendations:
  • Twitter Accounts:
    • Some recommend two twitter accounts, one professional and one personal.  Others opt to attempt to strike a balance between professional and personal in one account.
    • A twitter handle with one's real name is recommended over a pseudonym.  This also allows one to "claim" their online presence in a positive, professional manner.
  • Don't Violate HIPPA...or come close - when in doubt, don't post something.
  • Don't complain/be negative
  • Comply with school/site social media policies
  • Abstain from posting while on shift
  • Everything is public, be on good behavior
  • Tweet useful pearls!
  • Interact
The Technicalities
  • Start with @FOAMstarter.
  • Follow favorite bloggers, podcasters, and medical journals
    • Examples of medical journals: @EBmedicine, @AnnalsofEM, @BMJ_latest
    • Examples of podcasters:  @emcrit, @embasic, @emergencypdx, @rfdsdoc, @ultrasoundpod
    • Examples of bloggers: @sandnsurf, @precordialthump, @kane_guthrie, @eleytherius, @SonoSpot, @M_Lin, @andyneill 
    • Miscellaneous: Tox-  @PharmERToxGuy, @poisonreview, @emlitofnote, @MDAware
  • Check for conferences or other interests using the # (hashtag system), @ALIEMconf tweets major EM conferences
  • Chime in/start conversations.  This engenders active learning and critical thinking about issues.
    • Note bene: As always, stay professional.  Twitter may not be the best place for debates as 140 characters may lead to misinterpretation or too much effort for too little conversation of substance.
    • Like anything you read - double check it for accuracy/reliability.
What about all this Hashtag, MT, RT, HT stuff?
  • Hashtag = #.  This is a way of linking tweets together.
  • #FOAMed = Used for sharing free Open Access Medical education (why this hashtag? Check this out)  
  • RT = retweet. This shares content created by another user.
  • MT = modified tweet. Similar to a retweet, this shares someone else's content with one's own spin on it.  One can shorten another user's tweet in order to do this in 140 characters.
  • DM = direct message, which is private between two users.
  • HT = hat tip/heard through. This is a way of attributing a link or reference to another user.

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