How to Maintain Professionalism While Using Social Media

In his blog post on, Dr. Mark Ryan comments that there is not enough information about how physicians can use social media in a positive manner. As a result, he outlines 9 guiding principles for effective physician use of social media in his blog post: How to maintain physician professionalism in social media.

His guidelines include:

1) Do not discuss patient’s illnesses, medical conditions or personal information online.  Unless you have a patient’s express permission to share their information, then do not discuss anything about them online. 

2) Use social media to share information that promote quality health care and up-to-date medical information.  For instance he suggests looking to Twitter to find current information regarding research and treatments. The New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control all have Twitter accounts and are helpful resources.

3) Address those societal needs that you think are most important or that motivate you.  Social media use will undoubtedly be an added responsibility during your free time and so using it to focus on issues that are relevant to you makes it easier to sustain the effort.

4) Recognize that you represent your profession and help others recognize that they do too.  When someone views your social media posts, they will likely see the post through the lens of your profession.

5) Promote the humanistic values identified as congruent with medical professionalism.  Be honest, forthright, helpful and compassionate.  Offer help, answer questions and suggest resources when you are able to do so.

6) Presume that everything said online can be found if someone looks hard enough and is going to be available forever. 

Dr. Ryan concludes by saying, “social media is not simply a way to reflect what is happening around us, but rather a way to play an active role in changing society for the better.”

Click here to read the full post.

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