Dr Ash's Twitter Rules.
- Social Media exists and will not go away, it's time to start participating
- As health professionals we have a duty to participate in public discussion about health. If we don't the chiropractors, celebrity health hacks and snake oil salesmen of the world will answer our patients questions for us.
- Our duty of care is always to our patients
To discuss a case, take away the patient. Instead of posting about an '89yo lady with a renal abscess', ask twitter what their experiences in the management of renal abscess are (tag a nephrologist and an ID physician for extra learning).
Don't mention the date. Say 'I once saw a patient', not 'I saw a patient today'. The date adds nothing to your story but is an identifier.
Remember that patients as well as health professionals will engage. Don't use demeaning terms 'old people' or 'GOMERS' or 'opiate seekers'. Imagine youre presenting to a conference that has patients with the disease in the audience - by all means use medical terminology but never mock patients.
- Use your own name, reap the rewards
Even if you use a pseudonym, people can work out who you are easily enough. By using your name you are creating the public profile you want for yourself - your advocacy work and passions become your public face (rather than that article from high school 10 years ago that comes up when you google your name)
I've spoken at conferences, been published, participated in research, found mentors - all through tweeting under my own name.
- Profile pictures are non-negotiable
Your face is ideal but anything other than that awful egg will do. I don't follow or retweet people without profile pictures. To me, having no profile picture is the equivalent of wearing a mask to a conference.
- No bio, no credibility
What do you do? Doctor at the minimum but Surgical Registrar, Geriatrician, Toxicologist adds so much more. Otherwise your opinion is disjointed and of unknown value. We value your opinion (even as a student) but a blank bio is confusing. One person once tweeted to me 'I don't fill in my bio or people will ask me to help them'. Help them with what? I don't know what your job is because your bio is blank.
As a doctor with thousands of followers this happens every few months at most and I tell the person to see their GP.If you're a student say you're a student (don't write doctor until you actually graduate) and a student in what. Medical student? Nursing student? Geology student? Those are very different perspectives.
At the minimum a country, or again, your tweets don't make sense. Medicine differs vastly between Australia, the UK and the US and having this written saves many an argument.
Retweet things that you find interesting, chances are others will also learn from them.
Reading retweets by your followers is the best way to find more likeminded people
- Even better, 'quote tweets'
Clicking 'quote tweet' allows your tweet to contain the original statement and link but with the addition of your opinion. This is how most of the amazing multidisciplinary discussions begin.
- Find hashtags that interest you to find more people
My favourites: #FOAMed (free open access medicine), #MH4Docs (Mental Health for doctors), #hcsmanz (Health care and social media australia & NZ), #auspol (Australian Politics), #BachelorAU (You watch it too, don't lie)
- Find your people
I've met some incredible mentors on twitter who have invaluable in my career. It's about a million times less intimidating to ask someone to be your mentor on twitter than in person.
- Be a nice person.
Twitter is just like life in this sense. Don't say things you wouldn't say on a ward round.