May 2019 Volume LIV Number 3


Resident's Corner

Are you a #Tweetiatricdentist?

July 2016 Volume LI Number 4

Maybe some of you have had a similar experience in your residency. You are doing your best to educate a parent regarding the status of their child’s oral health and all you are getting from the parent is the top of their head as they seem to be glued to their cell phone rather than hanging off of your every word. In a world that is increasingly more connected, it is often difficult to connect to our patients and their parents. As a wise man once said, "If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em."

We have grown up with tech in our back pocket. We are often much closer in age to our patient’s parents than some of our colleagues and we are ideally positioned to evolve and move with the technological times. Twitter is a social media channel that many of our counterparts in medicine have already embraced as a way to impact communities, share information, teach, and connect to families as well as colleagues. In a world that has a hard time digesting long discussions at the doctor’s office, maybe it is time to enter into the world of fact bytes and photos in the ever shifting landscape of patient education.

I became excited about Twitter after a conversation I had with Dr. Jeff Karp (@JeffreyMKarp) the Residency Program Director of Pediatric Dentistry at the University of Minnesota, while at #AAPD2016 (you may be able to link it to the Twitter search page for #AAPD2016) in San Antonio. We were discussing how to engage policy makers when he mentioned that our colleagues in pediatric medicine are much more engaged on Twitter and there would be a place for pediatric dentistry to fill a valuable niche for Twitter users. We discussed the logistics and tweeting, whom we would like to engage through our tweets, and the obligations we have as professionals, educators, and members of the business community. What follows are take aways from that conversation and others I have had since that time regarding what Twitter might mean for the future of pediatric dentistry.

Some of Twitter is sheer logistics. Just because you write a tweet does not mean people will see it. How should media or hashtags be used in tweets? Can you under or over tweet? What are some common mistakes? I spoke with AAPD Web and Social Media Coordinator Lily Snyder (@AmerAcadPedDent), who had a few simple tips for those of us who are not already expert tweeters. Media and hashtags are important, these are what bring more people into your conversation. Engaging families, other providers, or specific communities on Twitter is only possible if they know you are communicating with them. Hashtags and media allow you to engage people and let them know you’re a resource for them. Over tweeting can be a problem! You do not want to add to the noise. Snyder recommends anywhere from two to five tweets per week to keep your followers and others engaged in your feed. In general the biggest mistake you can make is to not maintain your feed. Remain consistent with your posts, have some fun and be real but don’t let your feed turn into a runaway train. Many influencers recommend that people have only one Twitter account for both their professional interests and personal interests. People like to see the whole person. A good profile pic is also important rather than a logo or practice icon. I think that we should identify ourselves as pediatric dentists and reference our hashtag (#tweetiatricdentist) on our profile pages.

Twitter is also touted as a marketing tool and as I near the conclusion of my residency program I am inundated with marketing products that aim to increase the visibility of my future practice online. I will be the first to admit I was a skeptic and have been hesitant to use Twitter in my life as a pediatric dentist as I was afraid of having my posts seem like simple pandering for more patients. It turns out this is a common concern. Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) is an entrepreneur and social media marketing expert. He has built a core business around the idea that you build value through content. By providing your best information for free, and building your personal brand you will attract people based on the quality of who you are. There is a fine line between what we are perceived to give: education and advice vs. how much we take: practice marketing. His advice, give more than you take. The application is simple, Twitter is our digital chair-side. Provide the same excellent advice on Twitter that you do with your patients in the clinic. But be sure to leave the patient’s information at the chairside. Practice pediatric dentistry offline; educate online (no HIPAA violations please). Use hashtags to engage parents, other health care professionals, politicians and community groups. Bring people into the conversation.

As residents we not only learn the skills to become a pediatric dentist, we are also learning the communication skills to educate and inform our patients, colleagues, and policymakers. Twitter and other social media provide an amazing opportunity to collaborate with other professionals, advocate for children and families, connect patients with rare conditions to the information they need and provide high quality, accessible health care advice. Importantly there is an open space in the twittersphere for pediatric dentistry, who better than residents to take up the cause.

How do you plan on engaging on Twitter? Let me know @AaronBumann on twitter with the hashtag #Tweetiatricdentist and let’s bring pediatric dentists to twitter.

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