personal lives that would otherwise be kept
separate from a colleague’s eye.
Social media use comes with a level of
intrinsic risk, but those hazards should not
stop surgeons from progressing in a judicious
and deliberate manner with this form of communication. In the 1840s, when clergymen
claimed that anesthesia for a woman in labor
was a direct affront to the Lord’s plan, medical
professionals continued to use ether to provide painless surgery. 15 Anesthesia’s obvious
benefits outweighed the voices of its staunch
opponents. Although social media may not be
as overtly beneficial as ether or the printing
press, the social media revolution is progressing at a rapid pace, and surgeons can choose to
spend their energy resisting it or improving it.
More than 80 percent of teenagers online
use at least one social media platform, and
these adolescents will soon be our trainees
and colleagues. 16 Discouraging social media
use from surgical practice will only deepen
the stereotypical chasm that often exists
between the surgeon and the patient. Social
media provides one means of narrowing that
gap, not just by posting content, but also by
providing the means to listen, such that a
better understanding of where our patients
find their motivation and information—
regardless of its veracity—may be gained.
Social media is an essential, multifaceted
tool to the academic surgeon who serves to
learn from and to educate patients and colleagues alike. ♦
1. Kapr A. Johannes Gutenberg: The Man and His Invention. Aldershot,
England: Scholar Press; 1996.
2. Watson WJ. Ibrahim Müteferrika and Turkish Incunabula. J Am
Orient Soc. 1968;88( 3):435-441.
3. Facebook. Company info. Available at: newsroom.fb.com/
company-info/. Accessed September 8, 2015.
4. Twitter, Inc. Company facts. Available at: about.twitter.com/
company. Accessed September 8, 2015.
5. The Pew Research Center. Social media update 2013. December 30,
2013. Available at: www.pewinternet.org/2013/12/30/social-media-
update-2013/. Accessed September 8, 2015.
6. Matthews M. 13 stats every healthcare marketer should know in
2013 (and why). Fathom’s blog. Available at: www.fathomdelivers.
know-in-2013-and-why/. Accessed September 8, 2015.
7. The Mayo Clinic. About Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media &
Social Media Health Network. Available at: socialmedia.mayoclinic.
org/about-mccsm-smhn/. Accessed on May 28, 2015.
8. Pennic J. 5 reasons why Mayo Clinic dominates social media
in healthcare. HI T Consultant. Available at: hitconsultant.
healthcare/. Accessed September 8, 2015.
9. Vohra RS, Hallissey M T. Social networks, social media, and
innovating surgical education. JAMA Surg. 2015;150( 3):192-193.
10. Barnett S, Jones SC, Bennett S, Iverson D, Bonney A. Usefulness
of a virtual community of practice and Web 2.0 tools for general
practice training: Experiences and expectations of general
practitioner registrars and supervisors. Aust J Prim Health.
2013; 19( 4):292-296.
11. Altmetric. Available at: www.altmetric.com. Accessed
September 8, 2015.
12. ALS Association. Ice Bucket Challenge inspires unprecedented
giving to ALS. Available at: www.alsa.org/news/media/press-releases/ ice-bucket-challenge-inspires.html. Accessed May 29, 2015.
13. ALS Association. Financial Information. Available at www.alsa.org/
about-us/ financial-information.html. Accessed September 13, 2015.
14. Langenfeld SJ, Cook G, Sudbeck C, Luers T, Schenarts PJ. An
assessment of unprofessional behavior among surgical residents on
Facebook: A warning of the dangers of social media. J Surg Educ.
15. Chestnut DH, editor. Obstetric Anesthesia Principles and Practice. 2nd
ed. St Louis: Mosby; 1999.
16. Pew Research Center. Teens fact sheet. Available at: www.
September 8, 2015.