Social media has 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 Twitter 101 from Dr. Heather Logghe (@LoggheMD) and consider checking out Twitter’s FAQ section for new users.)
From Dr. Susan Pories on Networking:
- 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
- Greater than 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 ok 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
- 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 are 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?