For many of us, social media is something we may feel we can’t fit into our already busy schedules. But as I’ve come to discover, it’s because physicians are so busy that we need to embrace this powerful tool. By leveraging social media, we can join each other and hundreds of other doctors in sharing our opinions and ideas through text, pictures and videos on issues that matter to us, stay current on healthcare issues and even stay up-to-date with old classmates.

You may already have a private Facebook page. Creating a public page for your practice is a simple way to connect with and educate patients and the broader community. Just as quick is joining Twitter, an influential platform where you can share your ideas, opinions and resources via posts that are 280 characters or less. Twitter is a great way to stay current on the latest in medicine, healthcare and even sports! It’s easy to get involved in physician-oriented conversations and it’s completely acceptable to interact with users who you don’t personally know. Twitter and Facebook are also useful tools for balancing out sites such as RateMDs.com.  All social media platforms offer an opportunity to establish yourself as an online leader with a positive presence.

Another social media network you may find useful is LinkedIn, which focuses on its users’ careers. It lets you see what former, current and even prospective work associates are up to while sharing your own professional path. You can also post papers and other projects that you’ve been involved with, creating the potential for new connections and collaborations.

If you enjoy photography, consider using Instagram to showcase events and projects undertaken by you and your department. You can also create videos and place them on YouTube to educate the public and other healthcare providers. Their visual focus make them very attractive and ideal for publicly sharing educational material on health and healthcare.

Most politicians, and many government departments and agencies, are active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Learning how to leverage social media to advocate for physicians and influence the narrative and health policy is something I believe we should all try to do. While our individual voices might be small, when we collectively speak up, we can have a big impact. Social media also allows the public to see what actions we’re supporting and creates the opportunity for them to jump into the conversation and voice their backing for us, which only strengthens our causes.

Social media also lets us easily spread awareness for publicity campaigns created by your Medical Associations, Hospitals and other organizations. For more on the benefits of physicians using social media, read this quick overview from the CMPA. Before you begin posting, consider reading the University of Toronto’s social media best practices for physicians. And always remember to take a moment to consider what you’re sharing and if it could be misconstrued by the reader who may not work in healthcare.  Always assume what you post can be seen by anyone!

Once you’ve joined a social media site, consider following your colleagues, Medical Associations and local Hospitals.  Using hashtags such as #MedTwitter, #CDNHealth, #ONHealth, #CDNPoli along with those associated with your organizations will allow us to easily organize and follow each other and publically show that we want our voices heard together. Looking forward to connecting in cyberspace!

Rohit Kumar MD, FRCP(C)

Anesthesiologist - Trillium Health Partners
President - THP Professional Staff Association
Vice-Chair - Ontario's Anesthesiologists
Delegate - OMA District 5
Lecturer - University of Toronto

Twitter: @RohitKumarRKV