Medicolegal Issues

SHM Explores Social Networks


Dear John Q. Hospitalist,

Recently, a pair of college students in our office presented an impressive summary of Web 2.0, including and, to the rest of the SHM staff.

As I listened to their presentation and heard the energy in their voices, I couldn’t help but think about my initial experience and excitement with the World Wide Web. Instead of doing homework, I spent many late nights searching the Internet looking for more information to help me create my first Web page. After countless hours of coding and debugging, as well as throwing the keyboard a time or two, I published my Web page and became a part of the Internet. I was hooked.

After listening to these students I was inspired to check out and create my own LinkedIn profile. While I did not stay up until the very early morning sending invites or completing every part of my profile, I found connections to old colleagues, college friends, high school buddies, and family members. Today, I eagerly await the flood of e-mail from people accepting me as a friend in their network, some of them members of SHM. I am hooked again.

Seeing SHM members on LinkedIn got me thinking about how SHM might use social networking technology. I think there is an opportunity here to create an interactive resource that will empower hospitalists to find other hospitalists, make connections, and build their own networks. I’m interested in getting your perspective. Do you think our members will use this type of an online resource?

Many social networking sites on the Internet grew out of individuals in an academic setting trying to find ways to connect with each other. I would imagine many of our student and resident members already are using social networking sites. Do you think this is the case? If so, what features and functions of a social networking tool do you think are most important? Is that different from a third-year resident, or a hospitalist who has been practicing hospital medicine for a number of years?


I know I have thrown a bunch of questions at you, so let me share with you some ideas and maybe we can begin a dialogue that will help SHM find ways in which we can leverage social networking and other Web 2.0 tools.

One of the tasks in creating a LinkedIn account is selecting the college or institution you attended and the years in which you attended. Immediately after setting up my account I was able to see the names of other alumni who attended my university during my four years and invite old friends to join my network. I can envision a scenario where an SHM member indicates which medical school he or she attended and is able to see a list of other colleagues who attended at the same time.

For the general member, someone who hasn’t attended a meeting, participated in a committee, or been more actively engaged in SHM, an online network might be a first step to increased involvement with SHM. Members could use this site to connect with other hospitalists in their area and share their interests and experience with others.

Along the way, they might learn about an SHM initiative they are interested in and connect with another hospitalist who working on this project and begin to have a dialogue. Throughout time, this person builds their network and establishes new connections. When it’s time to register for next year’s SHM Annual Meeting in Chicago, they already know a few faces in the crowd—and maybe a couple of them have become friends.

These are just a couple of ways I think SHM and our members might benefit from social networking. I am confident there are many, many more ways this technology can help our members and the hospital medicine community. What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas. E-mail me at TH

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