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    Twitter’s benefits extend beyond ‘social’ aspects

    Stacy Loeb, MDStacy Loeb, MD

    Social media—Twitter in particular—has become a popular information and networking tool among some urologists. In this interview, Stacy Loeb, MD (@LoebStacy), a driving force behind the growth of Twitter in urology, discusses why urologists should participate in Twitter, how it can benefit your daily practice, and some practical “dos and don’ts.” Dr. Loeb is assistant professor of urology at New York University, New York. Dr. Loeb was interviewed by Urology Times Editorial Consultant Stephen Y. Nakada, MD (@NakadaSteve), professor and chairman of urology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

    What aspects of social media should all practicing urologists consider?

    I definitely think Twitter is the most important of the different forms of social media. Twitter is a micro-blogging service. It consists of very short “tweets” that are written about various topics. There are so many uses of this in urology. All of the major journals are on Twitter, and each conference has its own Twitter feed. At the AUA annual meeting this year, there were more than 9,000 tweets sent using the hashtag #AUA14. If you are not using Twitter as a urologist, you are missing out on a significant opportunity for education and networking.

     

    How do you incorporate Twitter and social media into your daily practice?

    One of the nice things about Twitter is that the tweets are so short—140 characters or less. You choose who you want to follow. I follow all of the urology journals, the AUA and other professional organizations, a group of other urologists, and a few things related to my hobbies like Syracuse basketball. So my feed is completely tailored to my interests. It consists of people that I want to hear from and news that I would read anyway. Instead of reading long news stories, I can quickly read very short clips.

    As a busy urologist, the key is not to let this interrupt the time that you would otherwise be working. I avoid Twitter while I am busy with patient care or doing work at the computer. Instead, I incorporate Twitter when there’s dead time—on the subway, in line waiting for coffee, and other times when you would otherwise get nothing done. This provides an opportunity to read about new research and interact with your colleagues during what would have been completely wasted time.

     

    How do you think it’s helped you in your practice?

    I think there are a lot of ways it helps. The research aspects are very interesting. Every time someone comes out with a major new paper, it goes up on Twitter immediately. When I am writing new papers, it’s also a great resource for finding new references. There’s very nuanced discussion about these papers among urologists, which helps to inspire new research ideas. If a paper comes out that has some flaws that made it through the peer-review process, these are often pointed out on Twitter.

    Twitter has also led me to make a lot of new friends and contacts within urology. I recently discovered an app called TweepsMap that shows you where your followers are from, and I found that mine are from 67 different countries. Numerous people approached me at the AUA meeting saying, “It’s nice to put a face to the Twitter handle.” It’s an effective way for urologists to get to know people from all over the world who have similar interests.

     

    What about as some of the other forms of social media and even TV and radio? How does that all tie in?

    I also host a radio show called the “Men's Health Show” on Sirius XM (channel 81). On Wednesday nights we discuss a variety of men’s health issues. On the radio show, I try to highlight all of the major research articles, and any time a new guideline comes out, we have the authors of the guideline on the show. I think that educating the public through all types of media is an extremely important aspect of practicing medicine. In fact, if we don’t disseminate new research and guidelines to the community, then we are doing a disservice. The real impact of our work is through its dissemination to the public.

     

    Next: "Social media is very important for a department."

    Stephen Y. Nakada, MD
    Stephen Y. Nakada, MD, a Urology Times editorial consultant, is professor and chairman of urology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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