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April 30, 2013

More social media

I've been playing with Twitter (@rbstansfield) as a work-related information channel. I follow medical education hashtags (#meded is used a lot, but also some conference-specific ones pop up occasionally). I have noticed a few things. These are in no particular order:

So that's where I am with Twitter. What am I missing?

Posted by rbrent at 07:03 AM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2013

Doctors on social media

I dislike the term "social media" because it lumps together things that have very distinct characteristics. Nonetheless, most "social media" has user-generated content, low barrier to entry, and high interactivity between users which makes it hard---even impossible---to control a conversation.

Given that, here are 10 reasonable guidelines for doctors who want to be doctors in the world of social media. I'd be curious to see how many of these turn out to be wise; especially the first one.

Posted by rbrent at 07:09 AM | Comments (0)

Empathy and compassion fatigue

Ezequiel Gleichgerrcht and Jean Decety have a new PLOS-One article about clinicians' empathy. It's a huge sample of practicing clinicians (N > 7,000). The most interesting finding to me is that clinical experience per se did not affect empathy, burnout or compassion fatigue; instead, disposition was related to these things. Clinicians who experience the negative aspects of being compassionate showed the most personal distress, which in turn was associated with burnout and secondary traumatic distress.

The world won't drag you down. Only you can drag yourself down.

Posted by rbrent at 06:49 AM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2013

Information is not data

A wise professor once reminded me that information is not data. Stacks of videotaped interviews are information. In order to analyze it you must first turn it into data by viewing and coding it and recording the codes in some analyzable form. That process is not analysis: it is coding. Once the coding is done and the information has been turned into data, the analysis can begin.

My graduate education was so steeped in that wisdom that I can hardly understand people who don't make that distinction when they talk about research, analysis, information, and data. If I send someone a summary table and they thank me for the "data" I am confused. When I ask for data and I get a list of means, I get irritated.

And when someone gives me an Excel spreadsheet that contains organized fonts and colors and column widths and combined cells and multiple lines of header information and rows of summary statistics for subgroups (indicated by cell borders) and so on, I begin to get downright angry. That spreadsheet may well contain all the information I need in order to extract the data, but the author has spent what is no doubt an aesthetically enjoyable time obscuring that information as much as possible.

Data are square. Data do not have curly flourishes. Data are not pretty or elegant or understandable at a glance. You should spend as much time formatting your data as you do drawing on your windows. Oh, you don't draw on your windows? Why not? Because you want an unobstructed view of the world? Ah yes. So you do understand.

Information is nice, but data are useful.

Posted by rbrent at 02:46 PM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2013

Fatigue vs. Handoffs

Fatigue wins.

Shorter shifts in residency mean more frequent handoffs between people who are least skilled to do handoffs and the result is more medical errors.

And of course there's the sobering fact that post-residency docs will have seen very little continuity of care.

Basically we declared doctors should put more heart into their craft, then turned hospitals into assembly lines.

Posted by rbrent at 07:34 AM | Comments (0)