Female physicians on Twitter

I delivered a keynote presentation a few weeks ago entitled “Personalized Medicine: Tailoring Healthcare in the Information Age” to a group of parents who had taken their kids to the Bristol-Myers Squibb Science Horizons summer science camp.

Aside from the jolt the parents received from my presentation regarding anticipated changes in 21st century healthcare, especially involving the myriad ELSI issues that would confront medical practices as a result of the completion of the human genome project, I had made a major point about the extraordinary contribution of social media to today’s healthcare system.  Specifically, I mentioned how today’s patients are becoming more engaged and empowered, and doctors not only needed to be aware of this, but ideally, would become active participants in social media themselves.

Reasons behind such a perspective have been sufficiently summarized by Barbara Ficarra, RN, in a recently contributed article to the Huffington Post.

Among the parents in attendance at the Science Horizons event were two female physicians, both pediatricians, sitting near the front row.  They commented to me personally, after my talk that physicians, by and large, do not have time to participate in social media, particularly female docs, and especially those having child-rearing responsiblities.

That conversation prompted the question of how commonplace an occurrence it was for docs to engage in social media, particularly female docs?  I have had many Twitter exchanges with various female docs, but naming a group of individuals on the spur of the moment was more challenging.  To this end, I deemed it advantageous to specifically identify various female physicians engaged in social media, creating a short list that could be made readily available in a situation like that above.

To generate such a list expediently, I was aware of another list available called Twitter Doctors, created by Hisham Rana, MD (@hrana on Twitter), which allowed a convenient method of collecting names.  This list happens to be based on real-time online social influence via a web-based program called PeerIndex.  PeerIndex provides a rank number based on certain metrics involving social media performance, analogous to other social media ranking systems (e.g. Klout).  Metrics for measuring social influence is problematic, however, and social influence changes over time (dependent on real-time social media engagement).  Here, I wish to focus solely on female physicians pre-determined to have a social media presence in mid-2011.

That said, below is a list of female docs who are currently engaged in social media, at least via Twitter, and in many instances, through other social media channels, including blogs. In each case their respective Twitter handle is provided for easy reference (often, additional information, such as a blog link, can be obtained by visiting the respective Twitter page).  I ceased collecting names upon reaching 25 total.  My goal wasn’t to list all female docs who use social media, but to provide a sufficient number of examples for others to follow, and enough to indicate that female docs using social media are indeed not a rare species.  The order shown provides no indication of either personal or professional qualification.

1. Dr. Kelly Senholz @mtnmd
2. AnneMarie Cunningham @amcunningham
3. Jennifer Gunter @DrJenGunter
4. Suzana Makowski @suzanakm
5. Meenakshi Budhraja @gastromom
6. Katherine Chretien @MotherinMed
7. Wendy Sue Swanson @SeattleMamaDoc
8. Natalie Hodge @nataliehodge
9. Vinny Arora @FutureDocs
10. Terry Kind @Kind4Kids
11. Elaine Schatner @medicallessons
12. Ramona L. Bates @rlbates
13. Katherine Burns @kburnsmd
14. Margaret Chisholm @whole_patients
15. Linda Pourmassina @LindaP_MD
16.  Cynthia Bailey @cbaileymd
17. Annabel Bentley @doctorblogs
18. Juliet Mavromatis @drmavromatis
19. Jen Dyer @EndoGoddess
20. Michelle Au @scutmonkey
21. Val Jones @drval
22. Cindy Haines @drcindyhaines
23. Emma Stanton @doctorpreneur
24. Sara Stein @sarasteinmd
25. Nanette Nuessle @DrNanN

On any given Friday, I would be honored to award any of the above ladies with a Twitter #FF for the role model they serve among the community of physicians.  I hope others find this list useful as a starting point in discovering the participation of female physicians in social media.

Robert West is an associate professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, SUNY Upstate Medical University.

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