HomeNews & EventsPublicationsMind Matters - Fall 2022To Tweet or Not-To-Tweet: A Trainee’s Perspective on Joining #MedTwitter

To Tweet or Not-To-Tweet: A Trainee’s Perspective on Joining #MedTwitter

Electronic Fall 2022  |  Issue 52

To Tweet or Not-To-Tweet: A Trainee’s Perspective on Joining #MedTwitter
By: Yash Bhatia, 4th-year medical student, UIC College of Medicine.

Disclaimer: IPS does not endorse any Twitter accounts listed in this article.

When considering whether to create a professional Twitter account, many thoughts may be running through your head: 

“What do I have to say that hasn’t already been said!” 

“I am a psychiatrist, shouldn’t I be keeping my public persona under wraps?” 

“I am not the self-promoting type…how can I survive on Twitter?”

While it may seem daunting at first, #MedTwitter is akin to an academic conference or annual meeting that just never stops. By simply searching the hashtag on Twitter, one can access an active, dynamic network of medical professionals, healthcare researchers, students, and members of the public engaging in medical education and professional development. Medical providers and enthusiasts from around the world can share, discuss, and debate without temporal or (overt) institutional restraints. This democratization of medical knowledge allows experts an open forum to expand their reach through retweets and online interactions. 

In psychiatry especially, patients face significant stigma and prejudice. Online conversions about mental health often focus on concepts like mindfulness, which, while important, reduce the complex reality of mental illness. In response, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals have joined #MedTwitter and used their voices to amplify mental health stories, highlight disparities in mental health access, and advocate for systemic change. By actively creating novel nodes of discourse, psychiatrists are harnessing their social capital to transform the mental health narrative, one Tweet at a time. Another alluring aspect of #MedTwitter is the vast educational content. From journals tweeting summaries of their latest research to psychiatrist “Tweetorials” on a variety of issues, the conglomeration of information found on Twitter is as astonishing as it is useful. Active users of #MedTwitter may stumble upon clinically relevant publications discussing neuropsychiatric sequelae of COVID-19, for example. #MedTwitter also allows providers to share anecdotal experiences, discuss pressing clinical questions, and stay up-to-date regarding developments in the field. Finally, #MedTwitter is a great place to network. Institutions and individuals alike are constantly tweeting new research and mentorship opportunities, continuing education events, and job openings.

Of course, #MedTwitter is not without its drawbacks. Like most other gatherings of like-minded individuals, the Twittersphere can become an echo-chamber drowning out unpopular views. At the same time, certain tweets may fall victim to unproductive responses that do not continue conversation, but simply tear it down. Though much of the information on #MedTwitter comes from journals or medical experts, fake accounts, misinformation, personal agendas, and physician-patient confidentiality are a few relevant issues to consider. Medico-legal concerns may arise when lay readers interpret online conversations as medical advice. 
Still, with mental health stigma subsiding and conversation expanding, now is a great time to join social media and #MedTwitter specifically. Established clinicians can undoubtedly benefit from the potential for social and political advocacy, interactive exchange of information, and opportunities for public education. Please feel free to reach out with any questions or if you would like to chat more about joining social media!

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