M DeCamp, AM Cunningham
Journal Issue: 
Volume 43: Issue 4: 2013



Social media is everywhere; its use has grown exponentially over
recent years. The prevalence of these outlets for communication raises some
interesting and potentially risky issues for physicians. On the one hand, some
believe that physicians should have a strong social media presence and can
benefit greatly from access to a global community of peers and leaders through
blogs, online forums, Facebook, Twitter and other communication channels. Dr
Anne Marie Cunningham provides a strong case for the advantages of developing
networks and figuring out who and what to pay attention to online.
On the other hand however, others believe that the use of social media places
doctors at a professional and ethical risk and is essentially a waste of time for
the already time-pressured physician. Professor DeCamp argues that the risks of
social media outweigh their benefits. It makes it more difficult to maintain a
distinction between private and professional personas, and as we have seen, one
mistyped or inappropriate comment can have potentially negative consequences
when taken out of context. With an already time-pressured day, the priority
should be patients, not tweets.
Whatever your thoughts on the benefits and risks of social media, it is here to
stay. Specific guidelines and guidance are needed to ensure that physicians who
decide to join an online community reap the benefits of global communication,
rather than regret it.