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Use Social Media to Your #Advantage

Fowler, Chesney MD

doi: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000488834.15950.05

Dr. Fowleris an emergency physician at MedStar St. Mary's Hospital in Leonardtown, MD, the director of recruiting of the Mid-Atlantic Region for MEP Health, and a founder of U.S. Acute Care Solutions (USACS). Follow her on Twitter at @MagpieMedicine and find frequent posts from her on USACS's Facebook page,





As a physician in charge of recruiting other providers to join my company, let me tell you up front: I will look at your social media profiles before hiring you.

You might be surprised to hear, however, that I'm not just looking for red flags. I'm also looking for standouts. I'm looking, in part, for those emergency physicians who have found their niche, and social media is an important validator for whether you are actually engaged in and committed to that niche.

Are you interested in pediatric emergency medicine or utilization or — here's an easy one — the #FOAMed movement? If you are, I would expect to see evidence of that online, including on social media.

By now, it's almost passé to remind job candidates to watch what they post on social media. Of course, avoid mass proliferation of photos of you drinking with your friends, but also attend to how comments might be misinterpreted by your coworkers or employer or hospital partner. No one is asking you to silence yourself, but that's why privacy settings were invented.

Emergency physicians must, perhaps, be doubly on guard that they don't accidentally post something incriminating or damaging. After all, we have short attention spans, and we work long shifts at odd hours. Just because you are awake at 3 a.m. and posting at times when you may be a little sleep-deprived doesn't give you license to complain about your coworkers or your patients. We work in a high-stress environment and may face a little more real-world frustration than your average liberal arts undergraduate. But, still, think before you post.

When I was a resident, one of my colleagues posted what would seem at first to be a relatively benign, even complimentary, comment to social media. It went something like this: “Thanks to all the nurses & techs who worked tirelessly during such a busy shift with 5-hour wait times! Hopefully, people will start to think twice about coming to the ER for non-emergencies.”

Ooof. The comment got this person into quite a bit of trouble. It led to a hospital system-wide communication and a clamp-down on its official social media policy. The short version was, “Do not talk about work on social media. Period.”

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Social Media Superstars

Just a few years later, I don't see too many young EPs making those kinds of mistakes all that often. Nowadays it's far more common to see quite the opposite, actually — young doctors who are social media superstars. I can think of a few of my younger colleagues in particular who are busily building an active social media presence, whether it's on Twitter discussing the latest #FOAMed issues or on their own blog discussing integrative wellness.

The volume of emergency medicine-related discussion on social media, in fact, is surprisingly high. The media does lend itself well to EPs in part because of our short attention spans and temperaments. Many of us don't have the time or the inclination to read a long journal article. Social media's real-time, quick pace is a good match for us.

I've been a reluctant convert to social media. I used social media as a resident mainly to keep in touch with old friends. When I became a parent, I jumped onto Instagram mostly to share pictures of my child. That account is and will remain private.

But in other areas like Facebook and Twitter, I've began to jump into more and more discussions. Twitter in particular is a great place to get more out of the many industry events I attend in my role as a recruiting director. I've also connected with other EPs who I wouldn't normally have run into during the course of normal life.

What it really comes down to is finding a comfortable way to use social media to extend your natural interests. When I look at candidates' social media profiles, I'm looking for that thing that we've always looked for, long before the days of hashtags and news feeds: a good culture fit.

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