Renu Dhanasekaran, MDName: Renu Dhanasekaran, MD

Institution: Stanford University

Find me on: Twitter — @renumathyd

How do you use social media in your professional life?
The main social media platform I use in my professional life is Twitter. I use it for the following reasons.

  • Stay up-to-date on latest advances — I follow the accounts of top medical journals, medical news websites, universities and medical societies which focus on gastroenterology, hepatology and oncology. This helps me easily get updates on the most recent advances in my field at my fingertips, and on a real-time basis.
  • Seek expert opinion — I follow the Twitter accounts of several thought leaders in science, division leadership of prominent universities and patient care advocates. This enables me to hear their opinions on the latest discoveries, policy changes or drug approvals.
  • Networking — I interact with people who have similar backgrounds and scientific interests. This has helped me form a tight network of individuals who educate me, support me and even entertain me at times.

What platforms bring you the most value and why?
Twitter brings me the most value for my professional life. Most of the major scientific journals are active on Twitter. They tweet about the recently accepted papers and editorials which make it easy for me to stay connected with the science. Twitter also provides me a platform to talk about my work and increase visibility for my publications or events. Also, the 280-character limit format on Twitter makes it easy to digest information which comes in small increments.

Why is it important for hepatologists and hepatology health care professionals to be on social media?
As hepatologists, we have a great opportunity to educate the online community and raise awareness about important liver diseases by talking about them on social media. Our online engagement will also enable us to seek each other’s opinion on complicated clinical cases and to debate controversial topics in hepatology. Discussing one’s research interests and publications online will also possibly help us to find research partners from multiple institutions across the world.

What tips do you have for your colleagues who want to get started on social media?
It’s much easier than you think it is! Create a Twitter account, write a short bio, upload your official headshot and you are all set. To start off, follow the accounts of your friends, colleagues and other hepatologists who are active on the platform. It's ok to play a passive role in the beginning but as you get more comfortable, you can start tweeting more about your work and your opinions. I believe that the high rewards-to-effort ratio will make social media engagement worth one’s time.