In this article an infectious diseases pharmacist identifies and discusses several reasons why Twitter is the best tool for staying current with clinical infectious diseases.
Article Posted: 20 September 2021
I joined Twitter in July of 2012. For many years I hardly used it. Then about four or five years ago things started to pick up as more infectious diseases specialists created accounts and trend-setting thought leaders like Dr. Debbie Goff encouraged people to join in the conversation.
During the pandemic staying current with infectious diseases developments became more important than ever and the infectious diseases “twitterverse” really took off. Today there are many thousands of infectious diseases specialists using Twitter, many of whom are pharmacists and physicians. Add infection preventionists, clinical microbiologists, virologists, medical laboratory professionals, epidemiologists, and others to the mix and the current state of Twitter includes niche networks of infectious diseases enthusiasts looking to share their passions, resources, and ideas.
In my opinion Twitter is currently the best tool for staying current with clinical infectious diseases (not just COVID!). Here are some of the main reasons why…
The Newest Literature and Key Updates are Shared on Twitter
You may have signed up to get advanced access articles emailed to you from one of your favorite journals. On Twitter, these articles pop up even before they are sent out by the journals! In fact, it’s not uncommon for authors of such articles to find out their work is posted when someone else shares it on Twitter and tags them. How can that be happening? Well let’s just say the “infectious diseases Twitteratti” is particularly enthusiastic about staying current.
It’s not just peer-reviewed articles you will find on Twitter. Many key pre-prints and noteworthy press releases are also widely circulated within the #IDtwitter community. This includes releases from pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer and Moderna as well as releases from clinical trials such as RECOVERY and PRINCIPLE.
Other key updates with an early and extended reach through Twitter include FDA Emergency Use Authorizations, NIH COVID Guideline updates, NHS releases, Joint Commission standard updates, NEJM Journal Watch blogs posts, and much more. News trends of the day are also on Twitter, which may be helpful for staying current with what the public is interested in, but tends to be less helpful for clinical decision making.
Thought Leaders are Sharing their Opinions on Twitter
You may be pleasantly surprised to find that some of your favorite authors are on Twitter and they not only have accounts, but also share their thoughts and may even respond to tweets they are tagged in. It would be too much to list all of the amazing people on Twitter. There are a lot.
Some folks engage in Twitter chats like #IDJClub and #ASPchat, which are dedicated periods of times during which a particular topic or journal article are discussed. Other folks will post their thoughts as tweetorial threads, laying out their thoughts in succession while using links and images to emphasize their insights. Some individuals (e.g., @RichDavisPhD with #MicroRounds) or fellowship program-based accounts (e.g., @IUIDfellowship with #IDboardreview) post cases for study or practice. Whether doing twitter chats, tweetorials, or just commenting here or there, there are a lot of great ideas being shared by credible professionals on Twitter.
You can Engage in Scientific Conferences from Twitter
With SARS-CoV-2 causing disruptions to our ability to gather in large groups, now is a better time than any to have a chance to engage in a scientific conference from a distance – even if that conference is virtual. Didn’t register for a conference because you don’t have the funds or just forgot? Well you may not be able to access all the conference content on Twitter, but there is a very good chance that many of the highlights will be shared and discussed on Twitter. Look out for meeting hashtags like #IDweek or #ASMmicrobe to follow along.
Professional organizations are beginning to see the value of social media and are starting to invest significant efforts in extending the reach of their events onto social media. Not only has content from conferences been a lot of fun to follow, I am also hopeful the experience will just get better with time.
Twitter certainly is not without potential pitfalls and people interested in starting to use Twitter as a professional should proceed with caution, but there is some really cool stuff happening on Twitter.
After reading this if you are not a Twitter user, you may be wondering how to start using Twitter for staying current with clinical infectious diseases. My recommendation is to search the hashtag #IDtwitter and that should serve as a pretty good starting place. That and check out my friend @ABsteward too!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necearilly reflect those of any past, current, or potential future employer.
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