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Are social networks blurring the boundaries between professional and personal lives?

Facebook, Twitter, Yammer and the Internet overall is a game changer. The rulebook of how we practice medicine has changed.

The NY times posted an article in which a young trainee describes caring for a dying patient in the ICU who reached out to her thru Facebook. She describes how she struggled with this and describes his eventual death.

I find that people I meet in a clinical setting as well as in a professional setting have typically "googled" me before they step foot into my office. Maybe this is a "silicon valley neurosis"... ...maybe it is a whole new world in that we live in a fish bowl. I am curious to know whether others have had patients who "poked" you on Facebook? How are you dealing with the blurring boundaries between your prefessional and personal lives (assuming that you have time for a personal life, that is :-)

Comments

One of the most helpful articles I've read on this subject is posted on PsychCentral's blog: "Google and Facebook, Therapists and Clients," by John Grohol, PsyD,http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/03/31/google-and-facebook-therapists-and-clients/
Anonymous said…
Ive struggled with this quite a bit. Both my medical and non-medical colleagues think I am exaggerated in my worries. I have had many people look me up on google--which is why I often do a self search to make sure what I know is out there. I've decided not to be on facebook, but even with this, you still are left with an online identity that you cant always control.
Anonymous said…
I have not opened a Facebook account, partly to avoid this.
David Tribble, MD said…
Social networking is yet one more place where we physicians must develop and maintain boundaries. In the past, we have had to contend with going to the grocery store or church, as well as the incessant demands of other medical workers for prescriptions for antibiotics and the like. Facebook and Twitter are yet one more layer of similar interaction.
There is a larger problem, however, involving not only physicians, but any of us who may work for larger organizations. Anything we say, do, or get involved in may be considered to reflect on the organization for which we work. We run the risk of HIPAA violations. We run the risk of finding out the hard way that our ability to swing our [verbal] fist ends where someone else's nose begins.
The principle is no different. The potential audience is considerably larger, however.

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