For the Affirmative… Social Media

I thought I’d share the article I have written for our upcoming hospital newsletter. Some similar content (first paragraph) to my SMACC review but otherwise a different focus. So pleased to get the opportunity to shout loud and proud on what I see as a learning explosion.Hubspot - SM like Sex

In what felt like being part of a spectacular experiment, the SMACC 2013 program launched in style with an opening plenary to end all others, imploring us all to consider what makes critical care so different? For the uninitiated, SMACC 2013 was the inaugural Social Media and Critical Care Conference, held at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre 11-13th March. It was a gathering of passionate healthcare providers, of whom many engage in social media and whose day jobs are mostly in critical care. The build up was the most amazing multi-pronged social media campaign I have seen and the conference exceeded all expectations.

A strong Redcliffe Hospital contingent, including Emergency Department Staff Specialists Dr Riesa Ginsberg, Dr Jason Chan, Dr Kong Liew and Dr Mohannad Hamed, former Redcliffe young guns Dr Aiden Lyon and Dr Kenny Parra and myself, descended upon Sydney for an insight into the world of FOAM (Free Open Access Meducation). FOAM is a philosophical concept fathered by Dr Mike Cadogan, Emergency Physician and team doctor for the Western Force Rugby team.

Most junior doctors from critical care rotations will be familiar with Mike’s work from Life In the Fast Lane, an emergency medicine and critical care BLOG (web log) and compendium of free medical education resources. The early adopters of FOAM have long seen the benefits. The core feature of SMACC was exploring and trying to develop veracity around a means of education that still has many skeptics and detractors. While extolling the virtues of social online education, most presenters were fast to draw the distinction between podcasts and published literature. Prominent podcaster Dr Scott Weingart (EmCrit) proclaimed a voracious appetite for journals, reading 60 full journals each month and added that his podcasts are not intended to replace reading, but augment it with an offering of tacit experience gained over years in critical care medicine.


I have only started using Twitter in the past eight months and have been often heard commenting that it is the best thing I have done for my own professional development ever. When used with a strategy, social media can open a world of resources, cutting edge journal content, community, networks and opinions that challenge personal biases and promote learning. I am not unaware of the professional risks and responsibilities carried when engaging in social media and feel irate every time I read a negative comment regarding working in the healthcare industry (Facebook in my opinion is the worst platform for ignorant social media usage). I think, like any robust debate a bipartisan view is important and it is much easier to demonize social media completely than explore the nuances and potential benefits.

In summary, consider social media a conversation that is published or broadcast. If you genuinely want to use social media for reasons other than posting “selfies” or photos of your brunch, consider the platform (I would strongly advocate Twitter and Google+ as opposed to Facebook for professional networking). Consider what you want out of it and educate yourself regarding privacy settings, how to post/Tweet effectively and how to start meaningful conversations via this medium.

Finally, to those who are skeptical, remember positive stories in social media don’t make mainstream news – how much good stuff have you read in the print media about Redcliffe Hospital recently and I would consider we are doing some great and innovative things. SMACC 2014 Brisbane 17-19th March, see you there.



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