#MedTwitter Series: Part 1

Jessica André, MS-IV, Howard University College of Medicine
EMRA MSC Northeast Regional Coordinator 2022-2023

By now, most of us have either heard of “MedTwitter” or have become a part of the community over the last few years. “MedTwitter” is a colloquial term for “Medical Twitter” where members of the medical community, students through attendings and program leadership, share their experiences, expertise, and pet photos to connect with and/or educate others. Whether it is to vent about clinical experiences, connect with mentors and/or mentees, gain support during difficult times, or simply to watch Dr. Glaucomflecken videos, MedTwitter has gained popularity and utility particularly during the pandemic. It has become a space to share and/or get access to Free Open Access Medical Education (FOAMed), a means for programs to highlight their training and wellness opportunities in a virtual interview era, a platform for underrepresented minorities in medicine (URiM) to connect with physicians of color across the country, a medium to share and discover virtual educational and networking opportunities, and much more. But one may have several questions such as how does one join the MedTwitter community, who should one follow, what kind of content is typically shared, and how can being a part of the MedTwitter community benefit a medical student? Although there is no cookie cutter way to get the most out of MedTwitter, this article serves as a preliminary guide for medical students to start an account and connect with the growing community.

Starting a MedTwitter

As with any social media platform, start to brainstorm some catchy Twitter handles, decide what photo to use for your profile, and what information to have in your bio. Another important consideration is whether to have your account private or public. A public profile allows for your tweets to be shared with all of Twitter whereas private is limited only to those you approve to have access to your content. There are pros and cons to both and it depends on your personal preferences.
For the Twitter handle, keeping it short and professional is a safe bet. A good litmus test for a Twitter handle is whether or not you would be comfortable putting it on your CV. First and last name is a common structure but is by no means a single rule to abide by.
In terms of the photo, using something that shows a bit about who you are or what you like to do can be a topic of connection and discussion with others in the community. Photos of you in the midst of doing one of your favorite hobbies, playing with your pets, or just your favorite selfie can all be appropriate depending on the version of you you wish to put forward into the community. Once approaching interview season or mid-late fourth year, applicants have used their professional headshots in hopes to amplify their name and facial recognition come application review time.
Lastly, the bio. This is a great opportunity to share a high-yield blurb of who you are, where you come from, and what your professional and leisure interests are. Some content that is often included in student bios include: year in training and what medical school one attends, medical field interest(s), pertinent memberships or leadership positions held, hobbies, and preferred pronouns. Many members of the community, particularly ones in positions of leadership within institutions, often put some version of a “opinions are my own” in their bio to deter followers from interpreting tweets as a reflection of the institution.
This bio can and should evolve throughout your medical school career as you get involved in more activities and organizations but can also be limited if you prefer for privacy reasons. It is a great way to illustrate your ongoing investment and dedication to the field and to share what makes you unique. Joining organizations such as the EMRA Medical Student Council can be a pretty cool addition to your bio if I do say so myself.

Accounts to Follow

A good place to start is with your peers either within your program or elsewhere. Staying connected with your peers throughout the journey is crucial. They often become co-residents or even future consults so having this platform to carry forward may have lasting benefits. Next, if you are undecided on your medical field specialty, begin by simply following local, regional, and/or national organizations of different specialties. For emergency medicine specifically, a good place to start is with following organizations such as EMRA, ACEP, SAEM, and AAEM to name a few. These pages often share virtual events and educational opportunities as well as committees and committee leaders you may connect with. Many physicians on MedTwitter are looking to provide some degree of mentorship or advice so be patient in your search for a mentor or niche group in which you can connect if you are not successful right away.
Once you are approaching fourth year, it would be advantageous to follow programs you may be considering for away rotations and residency. This is a great way to see what the program is about and to get to know some of the residents. The applicant has more access to program culture in the virtual platform era so be sure to consider looking into program Twitter pages as a part of your program research.
Lastly, consider following medical journals as MedTwitter has become a home for FOAMed. Maintaining awareness of the advances in your desired field may help you understand the work climate, the future of the practice, and some of the challenges you or your future patients may face in our healthcare system.

Content Sharing

On any given day in the MedTwitter community, the content ranges from high-yield FOAMed tweets about the management of cardiac arrests to interview season tips and tricks to debates on what is considered to be an egregious amount of caffeine to consume during a night shift. No matter what level of training you are, there is always something to offer or gain from MedTwitter. As you develop how you want to use your MedTwitter, you can start sharing content that aligns with your vision. You can use it to pose questions to connect with a specific type of mentor, share perspective about your experience as a student, educate other students with your animations or mnemonics from your studies, or simply re-tweet posts from other pages you find important to you and your peers. There is truly no limit as long as you do not violate any HIPAA regulations and do not disrespect any peer, program, or patient. See your page as an extension of your application when considering content to share. But overall, just have fun and try to gain the most knowledge, exposure, and mentors as you find your groove in this supportive and welcoming community.

There is a lot to see and learn within the MedTwitter community and it can seem daunting when you first decide to join. Fortunately, the community simply exists to support and educate members within the community so there is little pressure to produce content or gain hundreds of followers. By following some of the basic steps above, you can begin the journey of expanding your perspectives, network, and knowledge all with the swipe of a thumb. The medical community is vast and there are mentors out there waiting to connect with you as you strive to become the best applicant and future physician you can be. This article is by no means comprehensive and is simply meant to help get students started if contemplating whether MedTwitter is right for them. Good luck on your journey, future EM doc, and welcome to the community!

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#MedTwitter Series: Part 1

By now, most of us have either heard of “MedTwitter” or have become a part of the community over the last few years. “MedTwitter” is a colloquial term for “Medical Twitter” where members of the medical community, students through attendings and program leadership, share their experiences, expertise, and pet photos to connect with and/or educate others.