Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

Nepal? I don’t know anyone in Nepal. Yet not long ago I received a courteous email from a physician there, asking my permission to translate an article of mine into Nepali. The topic: advice for older patients who need anesthesia. He wants to distribute it to patients and publish it in his local newspaper.

I asked how he came across the article. He was browsing online among anesthesia blogs, and found mine, “A Penned Point“. Now “blog” isn’t a word Jane Austen would have recognized. It is a lumpish merger of “web” and “log”, and is generally defined today as a website on which an individual records opinions. The proliferation of blogs–like Tribbles–may be seen as a pernicious trend, but it demonstrates the power and reach of the Internet. Business Insider estimates that 22% of the people in the world own smartphones, an increase of 1.3 billion smartphones since 2009. In social media, once you put content out, you have no idea how far it will travel.

Many physicians consider social media a frivolous waste of time. Certainly they can be horribly misused–think of the cyber-bullying that goes on among teenagers. But used wisely, social media can be valuable communication tools. Here follows a brief guide to social media for physicians, admittedly subjective, with caveats included.

The doctor with an opinion

We all have opinions. Occasionally, we want the world to know about them. If you want to publish an opinion column and don’t want to create your own blog, there are online sites where your submission may be welcome. Probably the best-known public site for medical topics is KevinMD, which is curated by Dr. Kevin Pho, a New Hampshire internist. He came early to the game, starting his blog in 2004, and now has over 1000 regular contributors, myself included. You can submit a 500-700 word piece on almost any topic within medicine, aimed at an audience of physicians or at the general public. There’s a good chance that if you can put together a coherent sentence, Kevin will find a place for it. Brace yourself for the comments: Kevin’s readers tend to hold opinions as strongly as the writers do.
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We went to Princeton!

Naturally, I remember the night I met my husband.  We were walking along the seawall on a lovely evening in San Diego, having met over dinner at a nearby hotel, and were exchanging all the usual get-acquainted questions. Eventually, he asked where I went to college.

“Back east,” I said.

“Where?” he persisted.

“In New Jersey.”

“Oh, come on,” he said kindly.  “It can’t be any worse than where I went to school.”

He was right on that score.  Before he went to medical school, my husband attended Cal State Los Angeles, which is a fine state college but not in the same echelon as—well—Princeton.  Which is where I went, and didn’t want to admit to him.  Not in the first hour of our acquaintance, at least.

A long time has passed since that meeting, but apparently nothing has changed—young women still hesitate before admitting to potential suitors that they went to an Ivy League college.  Nikki Muller, who graduated with Princeton’s Class of ’05, just posted a YouTube video on this very subject that’s gone viral, with over 100,000 hits so far.

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Surely no one thinks of Downton Abbey as anything but an elegantly lavish soap opera, one that we Colin Firth fans aren’t ashamed to admit watching.  I hope no one is taking the show’s medical content seriously.  While the plot lines flirt with accuracy, they shy away from commitment.

Shall we begin with the miracle of Matthew’s recovery from his wartime spinal cord injury?  My sympathies were with Dr. Clarkson on this one.  Matthew returned home from the WWI battlefront with complete absence of sensation and movement in his legs.  I think we can all agree that his arrival home must have taken days to weeks–initial stabilization at a field hospital, transport to the coast, sailing across the Channel, and then the trip by rail or ambulance to Downton Abbey.  Dr. Clarkson was entirely within his rights to assume that Matthew had suffered complete disruption of his spinal cord, causing permanent paraplegia, since he had not recovered any nerve function whatsoever since the blast.

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