Friday, November 15, 2013

Powerful Tweets

by Lauren Nosanov

Social media have come to play a growing role at national conferences, serving not only as a convenient vehicle for information dissemination, but also as a forum for idea sharing and discourse. This year’s AWS and ACS meetings featured a significantly increased Twitter presence, with tweets from @AmCollSurgeons and @WomenSurgeons as well as several Twitter correspondents and meeting-goers. A review of content tweeted using hashtags #AWS13 and #ACSCC13 offers a wonderful snapshot of ideas discussed and wisdom shared. (For those unfamiliar with Twitter and associated terminology, see our Twitter 101 from Dr. Heather Logghe (@LoggheMD) and consider checking out Twitter’s FAQ section for new users.)

From Dr. Susan Pories on Networking
  • Women are often excluded from networks and from conversations that open doors
  • Networking: start small and begin with people you know (friends, family, etc)
  • Build 3 networks: operational, strategic, developmental
  • Don’t be afraid to take risks!
  • Smile, ask a question, listen, have a handy business card, make a point to say the person’s name - Dale Carnegie’s five points
  • Always be sure to follow up - it confirms that you are someone who can be trusted
  • Moral of the story - you never know what will come of the random connections that you make
  • “The way of the world is meeting people through other people”
  • Key to networking: “building sincere relationships with mutual generosity"

From Dr. Mary Brandt (@drmlb) on Physician Wellness and Avoiding Burnout

  • We talk about “quality of life” but not necessary “quality of work”
  • Taking care of ourselves is a key part of taking care of our patients
  • > 80% of surgeons experience discomfort or pain while operating
  • Crucial to pay attention to ergonomics at work, both on the computer and in the OR
  • Try to plan exercise every day and do something you really enjoy - focus on rotational core exercise
  • When are you eating, are you eating enough, and what exactly are you eating?
  • Call nights are similar to jet lag - stay hydrated, eat q3-q4h, repay the deficit
  • Human beings heal by telling stories - communicate frequently, sincerely and with intent
  • Spend some time every day being still and contemplating awe
  • Down time is not wasted time, it’s essential time
  • People at the top love to mentor those who are responsive and show potential for success

Dr. Gretchen Purcell Jackson (@pedssurgery) on Planning for Family

  • You cannot plan perfectly or be fully prepared (hard for the Type A personality)
  • Important to assess values, goal sand priorities prior to starting a family
  • One of the few things you can control is your general state of health
  • Think about child care options early on
  • Know what your institution’s leave policy is and what you need to do to take advantage of it
  • Important message from @LeanInOrg - don’t leave before you leave
  • It’s okay to have help, and don’t fuss about things you can’t control

Dr. Hilary Sanfey (@hilarysanfey) on Leadership

  • Leadership: the process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal
  • Effective leaders utilize more than one style of leadership
  • Watch leaders around you and decide for yourself what style they are using and whether or not it is effective

Joint AWS (@WomenSurgeons) and AAS (@AcademicSurgery) Panel on the Business of Medicine and Professional Development, Moderated by Dr. Carla Pugh (@CarlaPughMDPhD)

  • Seek out those who can provide you with objective advice when you find yourself in a difficult situation - Dr. Andrea Hayes-Jordan
  • Jobs are not forever - it is ok to change - Dr. Danielle Walsh (@walshds)
  • Mentors are a bit like the Easter bunny or unicorns - they can be quite hard to find - Dr. Julie Ann Sosa
  • As with all good relationships, mentee-mentor relationships take work to maintain
  • You really have to respect your mentor, like them personally and trust them deeply - Dr. Julie Ann Sosa
  • Assigned mentors may or may not work out - Dr. Rebecca Sippel
  • Good communication is key to effective mentorship - Dr. Julie Ann Sosa
  • Mentorship takes effort on the part of the mentee as well. Change mentors as the need arises
  • Societies like AWS and AAS place a big emphasis on networking and mentorship - get involved! - Dr. Julie Ann Sosa
  • Don’t lose sight of the fact that mentors also stand to gain something from involvement with mentees, it’s a two-way street - Dr. Danielle Walsh
  • It’s ok to be a stalker, it’s ok to be a groupie - Dr. Amalia Cochran (@AmaliaCochranMD)
  • Mentor opportunities - You give someone a rope and they hang themselves or make macrame - Dr. Mary Brandt (@drmlb)
  • When you are asking for something, be sure you’re being realistic about what you need when negotiating - Dr. Andrea Hayes-Jordan
  • Know your own value - Dr. Wei Zhou
  • Stick to your values during the negotiation process. You will be respected for that. - Dr. Hayes-Jordan and Dr. Wei Zhou
  • Write out a description of what you want from your position and get that into your contract - Dr. Joyce Majure
  • If you are in a position where you are hiring/firing, work with your HR department to get guidance - Dr. Sandra Wong
  • Negotiation is a long dance. Learn the steps. 

A key theme brought up by a number of speakers was the value of advocating for yourself. Whether this is seeking out the mentor that can best meet your needs, prioritizing your own health and well-being or successfully negotiating a competitive salary, conference goers were repeatedly reminded of a crucial point: you cannot expect to get what you need and/or want unless you speak up and ask for it.

Some food for thought
  • What challenges have you faced in advocating for yourself?
  • Do you think women surgeons have more difficulty advocating for themselves than their male colleagues?
  • Are you on Twitter? Why or why not?
  • If so, how has Twitter (or any other form of social media) enhanced your experience of a professional meeting?
  • How can the professional use of Twitter enhance your practice as a surgeon? How might it cause harm?
This post can also be found on the blog page of the Association of Academic Surgery.


Lauren Nosanov is a fourth year medical student at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine. She has spent the last year as a Dean’s Research Scholar, dedicating her time to clinical research in the field of Trauma and Critical Care. Having loved surgery from the very beginning, she is excited to embark upon the process of applying to General Surgery residency this fall. She is passionate about issues surrounding surgical education, mentorship and finding a balance between motherhood and medicine. Outside of medicine she enjoys practicing Taekwondo and spending time with her husband and son.

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