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Below: Karyn Ginsberg, MD, Weighs in with her observations on how social media has changed doctors.

When I started in private practice in 1999, I had only just bought my very first laptop computer. Email was relatively new to me, and all I had learned in medical school & residency were to place orders in a primitive computer, all notes handwritten. Social media was a thing of the future.

 

Fast forward several years.

A Pediatric colleague asked me: “Have you ever heard of ‘Upper East Side Moms’”.

I had not, but curiosity got me.

I took my first trip. It would be my last.

Perhaps the new “blog”, “social media” platform was a new age, helpful medium for connecting with other moms. Perhaps it was a great resource for advice, shopping, parenting…

 

But what struck me first was the vitriol.

For the first time, I got a glimpse of what was being said about my hard working, brilliant, compassionate colleagues, and myself!

Though conversation between members of this “club”, was assumingly meant to be helpful, it was, in actuality, seriously harmful!

 

Though conversation between members of this 'club' (a Facebook community I joined with excitement), was assumingly meant to be helpful, it was, in actuality, seriously harmful! Click To Tweet

 

One negative comment would start an online conversation about a HUMAN BEING, a doctor who was likely only doing their best for their patient(s).

On that one visit to the site, I, too, saw a negative comment about myself. It hurt!

Nicely enough, a mom on the site (who happened to be an MD herself!), wrote an equally lovely commentary, which highlighted my diagnostic skill.

My next week was fraught with ruminations.

 

Was I ok as a doctor? I had been in practice for less than 10 years.

Would these comments hurt me??

Was my practice doomed??

Should I be reading these comments with interest and compassion, digesting them and learning something??

Am I going crazy, or is the contributor of these comments the disgruntled kind?

 

Needless to say, after a week of sleeplessness and burning gastritis, I decided I could never go back.

 

 

Here we are, 2022.

The world of medicine, and the world itself, is an entirely different place.

It’s more complicated than ever, especially in the realm of social media.

Over the years, the young physicians I know have continued to sacrifice 7-12 years of their social lives to study, oblivious to some of the hurt those of us more weathered physicians have sustained. A hurt that has been embedded in the ”Cloud”.

 

After a week of sleeplessness and burning gastritis, I decided I could never go back.

 

I continue to encourage these younger physicians, because I love my profession.

The best thing in the world, after 22 years of practice, are my patients and their families, especially those who have continued to come to me and have referred their family and friends. It is they, in their actions and audible words, that have allowed the sleep to resume and the gastritis to simmer.

 

The best thing in the world r my patients and their families. It is they, in their actions and audible words, that have allowed the sleep to resume and the gastritis to simmer. Click To Tweet

 

 

The COVID pandemic over the past 2 years has unfortunately affected us all, healthcare professionals along with everyone around us who have suffered fear, illness and death.

 

Of course, we have all been emotional.

What I don’t think has happened, however, has been any greater understanding of the selfless work that physicians do on a daily basis, even during a deadly pandemic.

I have continued to read the opposition and vitriol from non scientists and lay people of all types.

I believe I speak for all of us when I speak of patients who have spewed anger and opposition to medical management, prevention, and safety protocols in our offices and hospitals during this confusing time. And, there is the overriding staffing shortage now. The care we CAN provide is being compromised because of lack of willing workers.

 

 

None of this is a doctor’s fault.

But why does the doctor receive this anger in such personal ways?

We all were taught to grow “thick skins” during premed, medical school and residency. We surely had to.

That does not mean that there is nothing inside of us.

Most of us decided on medicine for our lives because we are sensitive, compassionate, many of us (like myself) who have been patients all of our own lives, wanting to help others who have suffered the same ways we have. We are known to be brilliant minds who constantly question and look for working answers. We are human.

For my younger colleagues, remember this: we all entered our awesome profession of medicine for the right reasons… Humanity and health without judgement, the Hippocratic Oath we all took lives: Do No Harm.

For the dissatisfied client/patient/fellow human, please consider: your doctors are doing their best with all of their brains, hearts and souls. We stay in this profession because we love our work and want to help our patients. But the anger and personal attacks are getting to us!

 

For the dissatisfied client/patient/fellow human, please consider: your doctors are doing their best with all of their brains, hearts and souls. Click To Tweet

 

Too many of us have been burning out, suicide of physicians is at crisis levels, retirement of physicians younger than 60 years is at a max….

PLEASE, THIINK BEFORE YOU POST.

 

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Karyn Ginsberg, MD

Owner, partner of the former Park Avenue Pediatrics of Manhattan

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