Spreading the Good Word
I think I speak for all of us when I say that our busy jobs as skilled surgeons and providers for our deserving patients consume much of our time on this earth. We do that happily and proudly, in the firm knowledge that our efforts result in undeniable better health and quality of life for our patients and their families. These efforts, though, often leave us little precious time to attend to our own needs, be they spiritual or physical. I am often a little hesitant, when asked, to list my favorite hobbies and pastimes, because, frankly speaking, they are so few and sporadic. Having said that, one activity that I find both enjoyable and rewarding
is studying history.
From reading history, whether ancient or modern, one realizes how the saying “history repeats itself” is so true. There is much to learn about human progress from reading the history of nations and the biographies of past and present leaders and innovators. One common thread is that the fortunes of individuals, corporations, and nations have always been based on the ability to seize opportunities and ride emerging waves in technology; be they steam engines or computing prowess, to name just two. These monumental events have shaped history and resulted in sea-changes in the evolution of education, commerce, manufacturing, and social structure. We are now experiencing one such historic event with the advent and ubiquitous adoption of social media as an engine for communication and innovation.
Social media empowers all individuals. Literally anybody with access to the internet can communicate with like-minded, or opposed, individuals in unprecedented rates of volume and speed. Facebook groups enable surgeons to present cases and receive feedback from colleagues and experts from anywhere and everywhere in the world, as opposed to just the local staff. The potential for learning and improvement in knowledge, technique and treatment is truly exponential, and certainly beyond the reach of my imagination.
Social media also allows access to collaborate on specific projects with individuals who may never meet face to face. Meetings on Twitter and Facebook have built strong working relationships between individuals of different institutions that are effectively expediting progress in our field.
However, the real, and awesome, power of this technology is in its ability to disseminate information and influence opinion for the greater good. This is truly the grand power of social media; one which we must master and use to the full advantage of our patients. Many of us who are valiantly engaged in the daily fight for our patients, are familiar with the challenges in convincing skeptical or fearful patients, referring physicians, and payers on the life-saving benefits of our treatments; despite the mountains of evidence that support our cause. I firmly believe, that it is only through the formidable forces of our patients, and their friends and family, that a real shift in attitudes and bias will take place. Social media will be the catalyst for this historic milestone.
Towards that end, we are fortunate to have Neil Floch, MD, FASMBS and Rich Peterson, MD, FASMBS, chairs of the ASMBS Communication Committee, as our guides and leaders spearheading all our social media activities and campaigns. Their abundant skills and talents in this space will have a definite impact on the future growth of our society and the flourishing of our profession. There is much work to be done, but the future is exciting and reassuring because of the passion and ambitions of our members. Each one of us should register and activate accounts on social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, and spread the good word!