"The use of Twitter continues to grow within the field of urology, and it is important for residents to become well-versed in this important platform," writes Stacy Loeb, MD, MSc.
The use of Twitter continues to grow within the field of urology, and it is important for residents to become well-versed in this important platform. At the 2016 AUA annual meeting meeting, there were more than 20,000 tweets from 2,877 unique contributors, representing a 33% growth since the 2015 meeting.
Not only does the use of this technology continue to expand, but studies have shown that users perceive important professional benefits. In a recent survey, the majority of urologists using Twitter reported that it was useful for networking, disseminating information, research, advocacy, and career development (Can Urol Assoc J 2015; 9:E713-7).
The first step is to sign up for an account and populate your profile. A professional headshot and detailed biography are useful so that you can network with others in the field. You can then start to explore Twitter as a "passive user." Follow the major professional societies, urology journals, and key opinion leaders in the field. Reading the tweets from these organizations and individuals will help to familiarize you with the format of tweets, and almost certainly expose you to interesting new information in the process.
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Before you begin posting on Twitter, it is important to review the guidance on social media best practices from the AUA, European Association of Urology, and British Journal of Urology International. Key recommendations are to always keep your tweets professional and never tweet about confidential patient information.
Once you are comfortable with the Twitter interface and style of tweets, you are ready to start "active" participation. This can involve re-tweeting notable content from other users, or generating your own original content, which is ultimately the best way to create your unique social identity. For example, if you publish a paper or see an interesting paper in the literature, share it on Twitter. In this way, you can establish yourself as a curator of useful content and start to develop a following. The best tweets contain a key message, along with links and/or photos.
Next: Get involved
There are also many great opportunities to become involved with a larger urologic community on Twitter. This includes professional conferences, where you can use the hashtag for the meeting to share exciting new content. There is also a monthly Twitter-based urology journal club indexed using #urojc, which provides the opportunity to discuss important new studies with international colleagues. Finally, many of the professional societies host tweet chats during awareness months, where it is possible to engage with a wider group of physicians, patients, and other key stakeholders in the field.
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Do not be afraid of engaging in Twitter as a resident. When used appropriately according to the best practice policies, the potential benefits of Twitter far outweigh the risks. It is a highly efficient tool to stay up-to-date with important developments in the field and to expand your professional network.
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