I missed this yesterday, but Michele Au, MD, of The Underwear Drawer fame, has written an amusing and insightful perspective on social media's importance to the medical field. And this paragraph (well, okay, one paragraph and one sentence) is one of the best I've read on the subject:
...Medicine is about triage, and over the course of a busy day, with a lot of other pressing obligations, it's easy to look at something as seemingly frivolous as social media and think: it's not important.
But it is important. Certainly it's important to patients, who by overwhelming majority, and for better or worse, look to the internet as a source of medical advice before seeing any of us. It's important to hospitals and medical schools, who are finding out more and more how indispensable a strong web presence is from a business and marketing point of view. And I'm willing to bet that young doctors-in-training, most of who are in that key 18 to 34 year-old demographic, think that social media is very, very important. Look at this infographic from Mashable about how we interact with Facebook and tell me what you think. You can decry it, you can shake your head in rue, but you have to at least acknowledge that this is the direction in which society is moving. And then either bury your head in the sand and wish it away; or, as our training in medicine has taught us to do, you can observe and adapt your treatment plan.
If you find yourself wondering if there's really more to the web than PubMed, you could do a lot worse than read the rest of Au's entry.
Previously: A comic look at twelve medical specialties