You Can’t Stop Public Conversation

February 13, 2013

I hear occasionally of medical schools that prohibit students from blogging or using tools like Twitter.   But those trying to legislate the conversation don’t realize how fragmented our channels of dialog have become.

And the rules that are created never really make sense.

Blogging is prohibited but long comments are fine.  Twitter is verboten while Instagram, Path, Pinterest, Google+ are seem to fall quietly under the wire.  Nervous admins seem to forget about Foursquare and its capacity for dialog.  What if a student wants to share their opinion of the latest James Patterson novel on Goodreads?  And if blogging and Twitter are the problem, then what about something like Tumblr? It’s somewhere between a microblog and a blog.  I’ve yet to see a policy on Snapchat.

Inconsistent, byzantine rules that are out of touch with the way the world connects only work to make leaders look painfully disconnected.

We can’t stop the conversation.  Instead we should be training doctors in the pros and cons of public dialog, irrespective of platform.


Chris Johnson February 13, 2013 at 10:03 am

Rules like that are nuts. They are also pathetically ineffectual, no doubt made by people who have no idea what social media is and does.

Greg Matthews February 13, 2013 at 12:23 pm

So true … we hear this a lot from employers too. They think that they have a social media problem when what they really have is an employee problem (or manager problem; pick your poison). I recently participated in a panel at my 12-year-old’s school on social media, and most parents had no idea that their sons and daughters were actively participating in online group chat with strangers – on instragram. Yet the solution isn’t to shut it down; it’s to teach our kids how to interact with others, whether online or off. At the highest level, doctors are no different.

Jennifer Isaacs February 13, 2013 at 4:43 pm

I agree with you. If they are trying to prohibit HIPAA violations by banning blogging and social media then they might as well go all the way and ban texting and phone conversations. This of course would be ridiculous, but the point is, like you said, teaching students how to appropriately use tools rather than taking those tools away is a more mature move.

William R. Taylor, M.D. February 14, 2013 at 4:42 am

Do some countries come down harder than others? I hadn’t heard of this kind of ban, but then, I’ve not been in practice for fifteen years!

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