A Quick Guide to Social Media Professionalism

No one doubts that this is the era of digital communications and social media, and it’s coming along with numerous changes in our hospital and clinic practices. There can be a pretty steep learning curve when new technologies are introduced. Just as you’re trying to learn one platform’s purpose, audience, or lingo, a new or different application is demanding your attention. Add to that the constant bombardment by advertisements for webinars and online courses that promise to help us understand the complex world of social media, including the sometimes slippery slope that we walk as we communicate with our patients over online networks and promote our expertise and practices in the high tech world. It’s hard to tell where to start.

ACOG’s Junior Fellow Congress Advisory Council (JFCAC) recently developed a DVD that I think every practice needs to purchase. It’s a short, four minute video, yet it gives a very real message about the challenges we face as we expand into social media. The JFCAC goal was very simple: to increase awareness of unprofessional online behaviors and inappropriate use of technology, and to encourage physicians to think before they post. Mission accomplished! The video is engaging and does a great job of highlighting the consequences of posting inappropriate information or unprofessional pictures while using social media and technology applications. It points out that seemingly innocuous jokes and personal expression could lead to a tarnished reputation, ethical and legal violations, and disciplinary actions.

After watching the video, I had a more clear understanding of how to use social media thoughtfully and responsibly. Some of these points may seem obvious, but it is definitely worthwhile to review, especially as so many of us transition from using Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms as a professional tool instead of for casual purposes.

I purchased the DVD to share with my Human Resources department for a new physician orientation. I believe every hospital and certainly every residency program can use it. Check it out here. For more tips on social media for ob-gyns, see ACOG’s Social Media Guide.

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