By now almost everyone has heard about the social network site MySpace. More than 50 million people—mostly between ages 14 and 24—post and view online profiles connected by links to friends in the system. It’s one of the most heavily trafficked sites on the Internet.
MySpace is remarkable not only for consistent, double-digit growth rate, but also because visitors average two hours on the site modifying their profiles, and checking out friends’ profiles and commenting on them. MySpace has become ubiquitous to a generation using this public space to create and modify their identity on a daily basis—with technology that only recently has become available.
While recognizing that it may be a long time before www.hospitalmedicine.org becomes a household destination, the SHM Research Committee aims to generate similar excitement among our peers for connecting with each other over hospital medicine research on the Web.
At the SHM Research Committee meeting in Dallas in May, the conversation covered many topics, including the need for research mentorship, training, and career development. Plans for short- and medium-term measures to support SHM members in these areas are in the works, with a focus on Internet-based resources.
Over the long term, the committee would like to see its efforts result in national, high-impact hospital medicine studies and well-trained researchers. Whether driven by a curiosity in a particular area and/or the desire to provide better care by incorporating the best research, the universal challenge is to free enough time to pursue the answers and for appropriate recognition systems to be in place—be they promotion, funding to support further work, or recognition that leads to new connections.
The 249 abstracts published in a supplement to the Journal of Hospital Medicine only hinted at the depth and enthusiasm behind SHM members’ work. Anyone who walked through the exhibit hall during the poster session at the SHM Annual Meeting and talked with the people behind the research was impressed with their dedication and relative youth. They are the future of hospital medicine and are looking for ways to collaborate and continue to learn. The SHM Research Committee is dedicated to finding ways to support their efforts.
It seems as if many SHM members either engage in research, think about a research project, or wish they could evaluate their everyday practice in a way that can help others. However, it is difficult to discern how best to support individual hospitalists working in diverse settings across the country.
Because clinical responsibilities will not slow down anytime soon, we will have to work within the current, hectic environment and use technology as an equalizer to enable communication. In the spectrum of professional medical societies, SHM could be considered similar to the age 14-24 demographic attracted to the fluidity, instant communication/information and innovation that fuels MySpace.