When I launched my social media page years ago, I had no idea what a giant it would become today. I remember my colleagues making fun of me for blogging, and now my audience has grown to hundreds of thousands of followers across multiple platforms.
It’s been said that doctors shouldn’t be on social media, but I disagree. Social media is exactly where doctors should be.
When I first launched my social media and blog, it was simply to document my journey as a new mother-in-residence. I had freshly entered obstetrics and gynecology residency with a new baby after being told repeatedly that I could never make both work. My story resonated with many people and I soon realized that my simple blogs would become so much more. Social media has become a way to build my brand, provide medical information and establish a new patient base.
I networked and made new connections with other physicians, learned the latest medical information, and attracted many new patients.
On a regular day on call at the office or in the hospital, I can see 20 to 25 patients. However, with social media, I had videos that reached millions of viewers. The potential reach is vast and wide. Not only are doctors using social media, but hospitals and healthcare systems also use it.
Here are four reasons I believe doctors should be on social media.
1. It helps build your brand
Before you decide to start or scale your social media presence, I would like to ask you a few questions first.
What are your goals? What do you want to be known for? How do you want to be represented online? What is the clear message you want to convey?
Establishing my brand has helped me get featured in several magazines and speaking on several amazing panels. Building your brand helps you become known as an expert in your particular field. When people come to my page, they know they will get information about balancing career and family and advocacy during their doctor appointments.
Be authentic, connect with your audience and establish clear messages helps build your brand.
2. You can recruit new patients
I cannot underline the number of patients who have found me via social networks. Patients report watching my videos, liking my personality, and now want me as their personal doctor.
Marketing to patients has certainly changed over the years, and I’ve found that within a year of residency and starting private practice, patients find me online and book their first appointments without them. billboards, magazine articles or without having to ask for references.
Having an online presence also helps you determine and control how you want to be presented online. The first thing patients do before coming to see a doctor is google them. If a patient lands on your page, they can meet you virtually and get a sense of who you are before they even walk into your practice.
Even with occasional negative reviews, patients can go straight to your page to learn more about you. This allows them to feel comfortable even before making their appointment. It’s great that my social media presence has been enough for patients to feel like they can entrust their care to me and make the decision to book an appointment.
3. It provides an evidence-based medical information platform
We are in a time where misinformation tends to spread faster than the truth itself. Having doctors in the age of social media gives us the ability to provide evidence-based information where misinformation is rife.
While patients shouldn’t see a doctor online they’ve never seen, social media allows us to deliver information to a much wider audience outside the four walls of our offices or hospitals. Through my social media, I told my audience what to expect on their first gynecology or obstetrics appointment, offered questions they can ask to defend themselves, and busted common myths surrounding my specialty.
4. You can network with other doctors
Networking with other doctors is one of my favorite things about social media. I have met countless amazing doctors who are doing amazing work and research in their respective fields. We have come together to collaborate on virtual conferences, webinars and be featured on various podcasts.
In the era of COVID where conferences stopped, social media made it possible to still have a relationship with my colleagues. Social media breaks down barriers and allows me to stay in touch with my colleagues and peers past and present.
Now, of course, as doctors, we have to be careful when it comes to social media. Every doctor should know their hospital’s policy on social media and, of course, not disclose personal patient information.
Overall, social media is a great way for physicians to establish their brand, connect with patients and colleagues, and inform the general public. I know that in the future, physicians will continue to leverage social media in a way that helps us as physicians, as well as our patients and our community.
About Dr. Nicole Sparks
Nicole Sparks, MD, is a general obstetrician and gynecologist in the North Atlanta area. She also has a successful lifestyle blog on
nicolealiiamd.com and social media presence, where she covers a wide range of topics, including how to prepare for gynecology appointments, how to defend yourself during office visits, having children during medical training and navigating a career. medicine as a mother. Her passions include encouraging and empowering women to pursue their dreams without sacrificing their dream of motherhood. Topics Dr. Sparks enjoys discussing include balancing motherhood and medicine, encouraging female entrepreneurs, and discussing the inequalities that persist in the medical field. Her goal is for mothers to feel completely supported in the medical field, regardless of specialty. Dr. Sparks lives in Atlanta with her husband, two children and a mini Australian Shepherd.