Neurologists on Social Media
The Women Neurologists Group
Name: Kathrin LaFaver, MD, FAAN
Place of work and city: University of Louisville, Louisville, KY
Subspecialty: Movement Disorders
Years on Facebook: 10 years
WHY DID YOU JOIN THE WOMEN NEUROLOGISTS GROUP (WNG) ON FACEBOOK?
I joined WNG as one of its first members in November 2015 and am now one of the administrators for the group. It seemed like a great opportunity to connect with other women neurologists and learn from each other.
WHAT DOES THE FACEBOOK ELICIT THAT OTHER KINDS OF NETWORKING MAY NOT?
The connections feel personal and one can get almost instantaneous responses on a variety of professional and personal issues without announcing them on a public forum. On the other hand, it is often easier to go online than meeting in real life with our already crammed schedules.
WHAT KINDS OF TOPICS DO YOU POST ABOUT?
I post about resources I think will be of interest to members such as recent journal articles, news stories of relevance to neurologists, and issues highlighting gender disparities in our field. Getting women working at different institutions and in private practice to share experiences and exchange solutions can be a first step towards addressing gender inequities. I also do a weekly “Fabulous Friday” post, inviting members to share a highlight from their work or private life and end the week on a positive note.
WHAT ARE UNDERLYING THEMES/DISCUSSIONS FOR THE GROUP?
Crowdsourcing of challenging clinical questions and practice routines, navigating patient and interprofessional relationships, questions on career changes and non-traditional careers in neurology, conference updates, and last but not least, nerdy humor and tips on neurology-inspired fashion and jewelry.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE A CLOSED GROUP ON FACEBOOK?
The concept of closed and secret Facebook groups for physicians became popular by the rise of “PMG” (Physician Moms Group), started in 2014 by Dr. Hala Sabry, with now more than 71,000 members. The main advantage of these groups is a perceived “safe space,” enabling personal connections and support from peers who share common backgrounds and face similar challenges.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BENEFITS OF JOINING?
WNG is meant to be a support network for women neurologists to share experiences, provide advice to each other, expand professional connections, and have fun in the process. For sensitive questions, for example, those related to job searches, they have the option of posting questions anonymously. During the recent AAN meeting in Los Angeles, we hosted our second WNG dinner attended by over 40 members, and had members participate in the 5K run for brain research together.
HOW HAS NETWORKING WITH OTHER WOMEN IN NEUROLOGY HELPED YOU?
It has helped me to normalize some of the challenges related to being in the early stages of my career in academia and having young children. We can't “have it all,” but we can ask for our fair share of the pie and stop apologizing.
DID ANY POSTS HELP YOU PROESSIONALLY?
I have a special interest in functional movement disorders (FMD) and offer a treatment program for FMD in Louisville. Posting about a podcast interview I did about FMD has helped to spread the word about the program and led to several invitations to give Grand Rounds at other institutions.
ARE THERE ANY POSTS YOU REGRETTED?
I don't think so. I am paying attention to stay HIPAA-compliant; for example. I omit or alter details of patient specifics when posting, and remind other members of HIPAA-compliance rules. Although we are a “secret group” and discourage members from taking screenshots, nothing on the Internet is truly private. My rule of thumb before posting is: “Would I feel comfortable if one of my patients or my chair reads this?”
ARE YOU A MEMBER OF ANY OTHER FACEBOOK GROUPS?
I am a member of PMG, Academic Research Moms, Physician Women in Leadership, and Physician Mothers of Children with Special Needs.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE READERS TO KNOW ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA?
Although there are certainly caveats when using social media as a physician, it can be a great tool to connect with colleagues, get support on a variety of issues and prevent isolation, especially for those of us with young kids who face extra challenges in doing the “work-life dance.”
—As told to Orly Avitzur, MD, MBA, FAAN, or @OrlyA
This feature on the Women Neurology Group, a closed Facebook group for women neurologists is part of a continuing series on how neurologists are using social media. Tell us why and how you use social media and social media networks (Twitter, Facebook, or any others). Share your story with @OrlyA on Twitter.