Doctors Don’t Tweet

I didn’t know much about social media until the summer of 2008. Then, I entered Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism as a new student and attended an optional lunch-time session on Facebook, Gmail and Twitter.

My kids used Facebook, so I knew about that. Still, I hesitated to sign on to something so un-private, so revealing, so exposed. I asked the dean of students if joining Facebook was essential to my participation in the graduate program.

“Not exactly,” he said. “But if you want to be a journalist, you probably should.”

So I did. Over the course of 10 tough academically dense months, I saw streams of status updates, invitations to parties, news flashes and pix. Finding Facebook friends is easy, I learned, if you’re spending your days amongst people half my age.

Still, I wasn’t entirely comfortable. Physicians are professionals, reserved and careful.

Gradually a few of the moms I know from my kids’ school connected. Some of them are using Facebook for professional purposes, others maybe to assuage boredom. Some, I suspect, joined to monitor their teenagers’ lives. (I didn’t.) More recently, a bunch of my high school classmates reunited on-line. A few friends from college met up there, too.

But my physician friends – some 25 years’ worth since I entered med school – aren’t in sight.

The New England Journal of Medicine first approached this somewhat sensitive subject last summer in an article “Practicing Medicine in the Age of Facebook.”

I wonder when the Journal will talk on Twitter.

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