During a recent phone call with Peter Lees (founding director of FMLM), he was a little surprised that I knew that he had been at the recent King’s Fund leadership summit,, espousing the virtues of leadership at the Royal College of Pathologists and at the BMJ group awards. Despite being on call all week, the use of social media have allowed me to not only know this information but to see pictures of the events and read quotes of what was said. Medical leadership news, to me, isn’t about reading news covered by print journals or about emails I receive. It is about getting live or nearly-live updates. As far as I’m concerned, by the time it has reached print media, it is considered old news.
Increasingly, leadership organisations reach out to interested parties via social media: The King’s Fund have just passed 15,000 followers on twitter whilst the BMJ have over 37,000. The Royal colleges are picking up on the trend with many having active facebook pages and twitter accounts. Live tweeting from conferences or Royal College events is an excellent way for those not physically present at an event to catch up on the learning.
Last week, a medical director told me that he was ‘too old to tweet’ and that ‘twitter is for young people’. Well, it may surprise him to know that isn’t just junior doctors who are taking to social media in their thousands. Twitter flattens the medical hierarchy in a way that would take decades to do in a hospital. It is the place where FY1s can strike up conversations with people with organisational influence such as Professor Sir Muir Gray (@muirgray) or Professor Sir Liam Donaldson (@donaldsonliam) who both regularly tweet. Social media also allows real-time cross-regional or international networking which is near impossible via email.
So what do FMLM members tweet about? Twitter, in the context of medical leadership, is about building a wide network, highlighting opportunities that might otherwise be missed and discussing topical subjects. Here are a selection of tweets from me and other trainee members:
Fiona Pathiraja @dr_fiona:
“AOMRC trainee group submission to Health Select Committee. http://bit.ly/LAaYl8 < Point 10 is important ++ . “
Emma Stanton @doctorpreneur:
“Looking forward to @TheKingsFund conference: Leadership & Engagement in #NHS – Together we can. Especially implications for junior doctors. #kfleadership.”
Damian Roland @Engage2Advocate:
“Health Committee report on Education and Training released. Generally reassuring if you are a trainee http://bit.ly/Kn7DsS #juniordoctors.”
Toby Hillman @tobyhillman:
“Parting words from @jhcoakley > ‘You are the future – I am the past…’ Great talk, good advice for a bunch of SpRs.”
Nikki Kanani @nikkikf:
“Check out @TheNetwork001 http://www.the-network.org.uk – Casebook is a collection of #qualityimprovement projects.”
Oliver Warren @DrOliverWarren:
“Leaders must now give the NHS a sense of endeavour and purpose http://bit.ly/GKvsu7 – read @doctorpreneur and my article in HSJ to see how..”
Even if you are sceptical, as a current or future medical leader, you should understand and recognise how medical news and ideas spread. Importantly, networking that starts in the virtual world often ends up with tangible results in the real world. Instead of wondering what you might say or what use it might have, log on to www.twitter.com and send me @dr_fiona or the Faculty @FMLM_UK a tweet. You never know, you might just surprise yourself.