An Introduction and Guide to Becoming a Social Media Savvy Nephrologists

Natasha N. Dave; Matthew A. Sparks; Samira S. Farouk


Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2022;37(1):14-20. 

In This Article

A Guide for Professional Social Media Engagement

For nephrologists unsure of where to begin, we provide a practical guide on social media use (Table 2). Our guide provides the user with a structured approach to various online platforms. Of note, we do not believe that one must participate in all possible social media activities. Like the practice of medicine, social media use, too, must be personalized to its user. As described earlier, use of hashtags (e.g. #NephJC, #NephMadness, #AskRenal) can help categorize the plethora of content available and direct the nephrologist to the virtual nephrology community. The spectrum of engagement may range from passive viewing of shared social media content to active creation of FOAMed. One's level of engagement may grow over time, as comfort level with social media platforms increases.

For first-time social media users, we recommend joining Twitter, following a small group of users, joining live Twitter chats (e.g. NephJC or others), participating in NephMadness and exploring FOAMed resources (Table 1). Often, individuals begin as passive social media users until a certain comfort level is achieved and then begin to share their own contact and publicly engage with other users. In our experience, discourse in the nephrology social media space (#NephTwitter) is, on the whole, very friendly, uplifting and nonthreatening.

For those who create FOAMed and digital scholarly work, we recommend the creation of a social media scholarship portfolio to quantify scholarly output. Social media activity should be described in detail with the inclusion of information describing reach (e.g. page views), editorial structure, peer review process and context of the material presented (e.g. blog, tweetorial, podcast). There may be opportunities to publish manuscripts that both describe and critically assess FOAMed activities.

The growth of social media usage and the development of recurrent FOAMed content in nephrology now necessitate the need for training the next generation of learners able to use this public forum of discourse professionally and effectively. The NSMC internship was started in 2015 with the goal to arm medical professionals with tools, mentorship and guidance to effectively and cautiously use social media while avoiding potential pitfalls as medical professionals.[51] From anecdotal data, applicants who apply for an internship position are often passive social media users looking to increase their level of engagement.