Physicians “don’t have time for social networks”?

Dr. Jacob Reider says that he remains “…unconvinced that there will be a ‘my space’ for physicians. We just don’t have the time for ‘social networks.'”

A few thoughts on this:

  • I frequently come across the implication that physicians are all somehow more busy and pressed for time than other hard-working professionals. I believe this is nonsenseI use “nonsense” here as a polite substitution for the word I’m actually thinking. which is commonly accepted without question. (If a resident, however, wants to suggest that she/he is more busy than most, I’m not going to argue — mostly because people who are that tired may have short tempers …and I don’t want to get smacked.)
  • Dr. Reider seems to believe that having a presence on a social network takes a lot of time. It doesn’t for me. I spend about 5 minutes per week dealing with my LinkedIn account. The account makes me more findable and helps me get in touch with new and interesting people in my fields of endeavor.
  • I think that a lot of people join online social networks for a lot of reasons. Some enjoy the conversation with professional colleagues, some see it as an opportunity to schmooze and meet people likely to impact their careers, some see it as a useful current awareness tool. I think that a physician (or librarian) who sees value in the activity will make time for it. If Dr. Reider doesn’t think it’ll benefit him in any way, he shouldn’t join one.
  • I notice a lot of librarians suggesting that they don’t have time for LIS current awareness or for learning new technologies. I believe that by taking this attitude, these librarians are crippling their career potential.
  • Many physicians appear to find/make the time for social networks. In early June, Sermo reported between 15,000 and 16,000 members. I don’t, offhand, know the member counts for Healtheva, Tiromed, SocialMD, Clinical Village, Doctor Networking, RelaxDoc,, MedicSpeak, or Prometeo, but I suspect there are a good bit more than 16,000 physicians participating in online social networks.

10 thoughts on “Physicians “don’t have time for social networks”?

  1. We, at, hope this is not true. We understand that doctors are busy but social/professional networking sites do offer benefits and relevant information.

    We hope doctors do not believe they are too busy to receive new information and connect with colleagues.

  2. The “I don’t have time” argument has become a trite excuse within the physician (and probably other) communities. As an MD-PhD student I sometimes wonder if I have time to sleep, thus I make time. What Reider and many physicians fail to see is the potential time savings (and increase in the quality of care…gasp) that can be gained from using social networks. I have experimented with the social networking site SpineConnect and like the idea of being able to post a case and have my physician colleagues discuss it. It is essentially an outside consultation. For the small town practitioner, social networking may very easily become the new “second opinion” system.

    Few people “have” time in our modern society. I am going to now “make” time for breakfast.

  3. Interesting, yet he has time to blog (a social web activity). Is it that the good doctor doesn’t have time, or is it that he would rather be doing something else with his time? Everybody has time to do things, it is whether we choose to do them or not.

    I have doctors, secretaries, and nurses who choose not to have the time to learn how to use email or anything “electronic.” It makes me wonder where they will get this “extra” time to learn when our whole hospital goes to the EMR.

  4. Physicians are naturals for social networks. Remember all our research over the years showing that their first choice for answering questions was not Medline, not the library, but “Colleagues”? I agree that current practicing physicians may not be enthusiastic about communicating online in this way, but the profession grows with new members every spring.

  5. David, I agree with you on most points, but will add three observations.
    First, the one thing that many physicians have as a time burden not shared by most other busy professionals is being on-call, especially ER call, that can completely disrupt sleep patterns.
    Second, some of the best physicians I know are the ones who are the most accessible, so there is a way to accomplish that.
    Third, some of the remainder have an unwarranted sense that they are under more stress and duress than everyone else.
    Not everyone needs to be online, but relationships are what makes the world work better.

  6. Pingback: » Blog Archive » Syndicom SpineConnect (Online Social Network for Spine Surgeons)

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