I’m back!

Image result for I'm back gif

Many of those who interact with me on social media picked up on my brief hiatus from Twitter. I am now back and thought I would get back into the swing of blogging by discussing what happened and why I decided to take a break.

As a resident, my brain is constantly swimming with details about work, whether it be me wondering how a patient I admitted or discharged is doing today, or a dose of a medication, or whether I will pass my USMLE step 3 exam I’m taking tomorrow, or about my personal life, such as how I will spend time with my wife and pup on my next day off or how I will pay for my medical licenses, required training courses, and DEA number before I graduate residency. In between all of that, I ponder my own mortality and health, and try to maintain relationships with family, friends, and colleagues.

Social media has been a huge source of support for me ever since I started to participate and engage. I have met some truly remarkable people, most virtually and a few in person too, through my activity on Twitter. After the 2016 presidential election, and during it, social media was ablaze with political discourse. Some of it was productive and healthy debate but a lot of it was cruel, intolerant, and upsetting to witness.

I was finding that I was using my Twitter more to vent my anger and frustration at current affairs than for engaging with others to better myself, both from a medical standpoint and as a contributing member of society at large. It all came to a head when I realized that I was posting only political rants and I was not growing from my investment in social media. So, I realized it was time for a break. I shut down my Twitter for a while.

At first, I did feel the urge to check. I had gotten so used to checking my phone in between conversations, activities, and whenever I had some down time. Truthfully I was glued to my phone a little too much, but no one’s perfect, right? Then as I settled in, I found new and different ways to get news and information. I used to rely on the Twitter moments a lot when I was heavily active on Twitter. I started to look up articles on specific news sites. I used other news applications available such as Apple News and others. I discussed articles with my wife. I asked her for recommendations and sent her articles I read myself.

I had hoped to make more profound changes in how I interacted with people digitally and how I sought information and news. I made some changes, for sure. In the end, what I really gained from my break was a chance to reflect on what I wanted to gain from my social media presence. What did I want to say? What did I want to think about and converse about with others? What did I personally gain from my tweeting and blogging?

This and more I pondered for a couple of months, all the while intermittently logging into and deactivating my Twitter to keep it alive in the shadows. I’ll probably delve into all of this more in the coming months and years, as there’s much to share, but it’s good to be back.

Why do you use social media? What are your reasons for blogging, vlogging, tweeting, instagramming, or snapchatting?

Healthcare Professionals & Politics

I dedicate this post to all the men, women, and children who showed the world that Donald Trump is a man, and that he does not speak for us all. I dedicate this to all those who participated in the Women’s March, all over the world. I dedicate this to the leaders at FemInEM, PolicyRX, at my own University of Maryland Department of Emergency Medicine, and others, for inspiring me in my own career to engage.

Over the past few years, I’ve had a great experiencing exploring social media as a physician trainee and medical student. Before starting my Twitter, I had sworn off all forms of social media. I mostly wrote and journaled privately. However, using social media as a medical professional has been a vital source of inspiration & collaboration with people all over the world. Twitter as well as other online outlets have become go to places for me to engage in discussion & learn about current events. For those of us who work ridiculous schedules & hours, online communities work well for getting and sharing information. In a very basic sense, having a platform to let the world know how I feel has also been quite cathartic. 

However, in the past year, especially in the current state of affairs in the United States & around the world, I have become much more vocal about my views on politics and healthcare policy. I have been scorned by medical professionals who keep their online social media and other presences apolitical and purely clinical in nature. I don’t dispute that this is a good idea for many. After all, as with anything in life, we all have our reasons. 

What irks me, though, is judgment cast against those of us who DO share our opinions on current events & who DO take stances on various issues. If you don’t agree with me on this, there’s a simple solution – unfollow me, and move on. Don’t judge me though. Don’t think you’re somehow better. And most definitely don’t think you’re right and I’m wrong. 

Being a physician required me to take the Hippocratic Oath. Medical professionals dedicate themselves to caring for their fellow human beings. Yes, the majority of how I help the world occurs during my shifts in an Emergency Department, where I remain 100% apolitical and without judgment. I treat each and every single patient with the same compassion and work ethic as if they were my own family. 

I give medical advice and provide treatment and support to the very best of my ability, regardless of who you are, where you come from, or what your beliefs are. In fact, I have myself been judged by patients and other medical professionals. I have had racial slurs hurled in my direction when I made a clinical decision that patients did not agree with. I’ve been called a “sand nigg**” because I didn’t want to give my intoxicated patient opiates for his muscle ache. It wasn’t medically indicated and I told him so. Despite his slurs toward me, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and had to do breathing exercises the entire 10 minutes he stood by me, with nurses, doctors, staff, and other patients right there, as he insulted me, to remain under control.

I know I have a duty to care for my fellow men and women without casting any judgment on them or their choices. This is NOT the same as keeping your social media presence apolitical or purely clinical. I believe, in my heart, that it is my responsibility to use my education and my passion to create positive change for all, and to that goal, I use my social media presence to advocate on issues I think are important. 
I have posted about:

  1. Donald Trump & his presidential “campaign”
  2. Abortion
  3. Planned Parenthood
  4. The Affordable Care Act
  5. Women’s Equality
  6. Mental Health Issues for healthcare professionals 
  7. Health policy
  8. LGBTQ Rights & Disparities

In many instances I took a stance and tried to articulate my beliefs & reasoning.

What I hope is that we can create discourse and discussion that leads to positive change. You can’t achieve anything unless you’re at the table. And I believe, truly, that most medical professionals are not at the table. 

Many of us are simply too burnt out or exhausted to even participate. People have this notion that a doctor simply exists to try and diagnose conditions and write prescriptions. But that’s not even the half of it. There’s so much more to our work, and this applies to all types of medical professionals – RNs, NPs, PAs, techs, prehospital professionals, all types of therapists, and the list goes on and on. Yes we are expected to deliver clinical care but I didn’t sign up to simply be a cog in the medical industrial machine. 

I signed up to create change. 

Change requires dialogue, and for that to happen, you’ve got to share your voice.

I can’t force you to use your social media presence to engage in political discussion. I can’t force you to tell me what you think about the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act or why anti-vaccination is dangerous for us all, but I want you to stop judging me and my colleagues who are willing to sit at the table.