Like many of you, I have a fairly long commute. Recently, as I was driving and scanning the channels on Sirius, I landed on a talk program hosted by Dr. Laura Schlessinger — a certified marriage and family counselor (her PhD is in physiology) with many decades of experience, a stack of best-selling advice books, and a very long running radio show.
The caller was a young woman with a cheating husband and a new baby. She related that they had dated only five months before getting married, against the recommendations of her friends and family, and that she knew he was a philanderer before they got married. She became pregnant within months of the marriage, and now, having discovered her spouse’s multiple recent affairs, was wondering how to fix her situation.
Dr. Laura feels very firmly that in most cases, the right thing to do is to put up with a poor choice in marriage and focus on keeping a happy home for the child. (You may not agree — and this blog post contains nothing about whether or not I agree — but the actual content of her advice really isn’t the point, so stay with me here.) So, Dr. Laura told the caller that there was no good fix for this bad situation, which she said was the result of the caller’s own poor decision making. She went on to spend a few minutes dispensing advice about what couples could do before they got married, to ensure they were choosing a partner wisely.
Then Dr. Laura said, “The reason I do this show on the radio is so that other people can benefit from what I’m saying. I don’t have a fix for you, but I’m glad you called, so that other women out there listening to this can avoid the decisions and mistakes you made.”
Why would a therapist stop engaging in one-on-one work with clients in order to write books and host a radio show? There are many possible reasons that come to mind. Many people would presume a motivation to become famous or wealthy — “selling out.”
Now, I don’t know Dr. Laura, nor do I have any particular affinity for or against her work. But she is right about at least one thing. There are many reasons physicians and other health care professionals should be active online: so that other people — patients and clinicians and administrators you’ll never meet in person or work with directly — can be exposed to your point of view and your unique expertise.
Sharing your work in a publicly consumable format obviously reaches more people than you can impact one at a time in your daily work. In the old days, only a few experts had such forums, because they were dependent upon publishers and media executives to give them a platform, to publish their work, and to put them on the air (TV or radio). You had to have the right message, the right look, the right charisma to land one of these spots, and it required a significant time investment just to try. You needed approval and permission to get in the door. A third party had to deem your ideas worthy.
It’s a new era, and absolutely anyone can make a greater difference in the world using the Internet, and social media, in particular, to teach, share, and connect with others. It only takes a few minutes, and is entirely within your control — no publisher or executive permission needed.
If you’ve dedicated your professional life to a health discipline, I’m willing to bet you have a least one health-related message you are passionate about. Amplify that message, and go change the world. I hope you’ll take a moment to leave a comment that shares more about your work and how people can connect with you. Go ahead — promote your cause, your website, and whatever you feel will help people. Permission granted.
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