• Twitter as a Tool to Jump-Start Your Career

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    In medicine, social media is becoming increasingly import­ant as a channel for professional communication. Today’s young ophthalmologists (YOs) were in high school and college when the social media revolution began. As a result, we are very familiar with its use as a method of personal communication. However, many of us are less familiar with how to use social media—in particular, Twitter—for professional, career-building purposes.

    Why Twitter?

    Twitter is the social network of choice for professional medi­cal communications for several reasons:

    • Connect beyond your Facebook friends. Twitter helps you socially engage with physicians in every specialty and all over the world but allows you to keep your other social networks, like Facebook and Instagram, private and visible to just your family and friends.
    • To the point. When writing a tweet, you may find that staying under the 140-character limit can be challenging. When reading tweets, you will appreciate that this same character limit yields concise pearls of information.
    • Customized content. Incoming tweets are based on the Twitter users that you chose to follow.
    • Real-time discussion. New tweets appear within seconds. This nearly real-time discussion is particularly useful for tweeting at conferences and participating in Twitter chats (see below).
    • YO peers are tweeting. At AAO 2015, 63% of ophthalmol­ogists tweeting were either trainees or had been in practice for no more than 10 years.1 Today’s YOs will continue to steer the social media conversation for many years to come. 

    How to Get Started

    Set up your account at https://twitter.com/signup.

    Start before you finish training. Many YOs mistakenly delay establishing a professional online presence (website, social media) until they have completed training and are certain about their practice setting and location. Creating a Twitter account while still in training is an easy, cheap way to jump-start your career—and once you know where you will be practicing, simply update your social media profile with your practice location and details.

    Personal brand vs. practice brand. An official, prac­tice-based Twitter feed can be a great market­ing tool to brand your practice and connect with patients. (Be sure to add a disclaimer that tweets should not be construed as medical advice. Journalists often say retweet ≠ endorsement.) Your personal Twitter feed, however, will not only synergistically strengthen your practice brand but will give you a public voice to share your unique insights, strengthening your personal brand.

    Choose a Twitter username. Keep it simple. If it’s still available, use your name followed by MD so others can easily find (and follow!) you.

    Which accounts and topics should you follow? Over time, you can create a highly focused news feed that is a close match to your interests. Start below by reading “Developing Your Twitter Account Into an Ophthalmic News Feed,” which recommends Twitter accounts and hashtags to follow.

    Developing Your Twitter Account Into an Ophthalmic News Feed

    Follow the Academy

    Get instant news directly from the Academy:

    @aao_ophth is the Academy’s Twitter feed, providing news from the Academy (e.g., deadlines and announce­ments about new Academy resources) and beyond (e.g., clinical breakthroughs, regulatory updates, and advocacy alerts).

    @AAOjournal provides a daily tweet to keep you up to date with what’s in press at the Academy’s blue journal.

    @AcademyEyeSmart gives you news of the Academy’s public information campaigns, including posts that you are encouraged to retweet to your patients.

    #aao2016 is the official hashtag of the Academy’s up­coming annual meeting in Chicago.

    #aaoyo is for tweets that are of particular interest to Young Ophthalmologists (YOs).

    Twitter feeds from other ophthalmology associations include @ARVOinfo and @ASCRStweets.

    Follow These Institutions

    Twitter feeds that are popular with ophthalmologists in­clude those provided by @NatEyeInstitute, @CMSgov, and @CDCgov.

    Many ophthalmologists choose to follow the feed of the department where they trained—here are just a few worth checking out: @UIowaEye, @Wills_Eye, @MassEyeAndEar, @BascomPalmerEye, @MoranEyeCenter, and @UMKelloggEye.

    Follow These Topics

    Get the latest updates on relevant health-related topics by following these hashtags:

    #meded is used to discuss a variety of topics related to medical education.

    #healthIT is used in discussions of medical information technology, including electronic health records, mean­ingful use, and interoperability.

    #hcsm is used for content related to the use of social media in health care.

    #FOAMed is used to share free, open-access medical education content and resources.

    Two Guides

    Using Twitter, The Basics. From “how do I get started?” to “what is a hashtag?” the folks at Twitter provide an­swers.

    Ten Tips for Tweeting From Conferences, from the Chronicle of Higher Education. This guide to live-tweeting conferences also covers a lot of good basics, including attribution and how to publicly mention people.

    Use Twitter to Share and Connect

    Tweet pearls from grand rounds, lectures, or published articles. Twitter can be a good way to take notes and educate others. Tweet clinical pearls, add a relevant link (remember HIPAA!), and credit your sources by using their Twitter handle or ending the tweet with –[Last name] or, if you have space, –Dr. [Last name].

    Join a Twitter chat to discuss various health care topics. Engage with other Twitter users in live, regularly scheduled Twitter-based chats. Popular chats for trainees are #meded for medical education (Thursdays at 9:00 p.m., EDT) and #hcsm for social media in health care communications (Sun­days at 8:00 p.m., CT).

    Live-tweet at conferences. Share key points from (and credit!) podium lecturers to enrich the conference experi­ence for those attending the meeting, and help disseminate the meeting highlights to the digital audience worldwide.


    1 Christiansen SM et al. Ophthalmology. 2016;123(8):1835-1837.


    Steven M. Christiansen, MD, is a third-year resident at the University of Iowa and is on the YO committee. He blogs at eyesteve.com and can be found on Twitter @eyesteve. Financial disclosures: None.

    For more articles, click the section links under “YO Guide Content.”