Social Media in Academic Medicine: An interview with Dr. Ed Mariano

By Alana Flexman, MD FRCPC
Chair, Scientific Affairs Committee


Alana Flexman, MD, FRCPC

I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Ed Mariano about the role of social media in academic medicine. Dr. Mariano is a Professor at Stanford University School of Medicine with a Master of Advanced Studies Degree in Clinical Research. His research interests include the development of techniques and patient care pathways to improve postoperative pain control, patient safety and other surgical outcomes and has published over 130 peer-reviewed articles.  He is a recipient of the Veteran Health Administration’s John D. Chase Award for Physician Executives Excellence and has worked on key national healthcare initiatives including the establishment of standards on pain assessment and management and the development of quality and cost measures in perioperative care.  Dr. Mariano (@EMARIANOMD) is very active on Twitter with over 7500 followers and manages his own self-titled blog,  

Dr. Ed Mariano

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us about social media for academic physicians. 

1) What social media platforms do you use?

I primarily use Twitter for my updates in my specialty, news, and interesting articles. For research dissemination, besides Twitter, I also use ResearchGate and Doximity. In addition, I have a LinkedIn account which I mostly use for access to SlideShare which is owned by LinkedIn and a great platform for sharing and discovering educational presentations.

2) What are the top three benefits of social media for physicians?

It’s hard to pick just three. The main ones in my opinion are: 1) global interaction; 2) research and practice sharing; and 3) lifelong learning. From the Oxford Dictionaries, social media is defined as “Websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.” Engaging in social media gives physicians a worldwide community of colleagues who can help curate the vast and ever-growing amount of information available to us today.

3) What are the top three pitfalls of social media for physicians?

There are many potential pitfalls of social media, unfortunately. Like any powerful tool, it must be used wisely. Physicians can get themselves into trouble if they: 1) ignore rules about patient privacy; 2) use social media platforms at inappropriate times (like in the OR)—remember anything digital is time-stamped; and 3) post comments that they would not typically say to someone’s face; be respectful and know when not to engage. I recommend following Dr. John Mandrola’s 10 rules for doctors on social media (

4) Do you have any tips for physicians just starting out on Twitter?

I’ll admit that getting started is intimidating, but I encourage you to try it if you haven’t already. I promise that you won’t regret it, and chances are that you’ll be very happy you did. If you’re still too worried to take the leap, I suggest reading these 10 Twitter Tips for Beginners from Marie Ennis-O’Connor to boost your confidence. At least sign up, reserve your “handle” (username), and observe. Remember that no one with a Twitter account is obligated to tweet anything. Observation is still a key part of the scientific method.

Thanks for that great advice!

If you want to learn more about using social media in your academic career, join Dr. Mariano at the Career Development Session for Young Investigators on Thursday, October 11 at the 2018 SNACC Annual Meeting.

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