I decided to brows about, googling the social anxiety and fears I mentioned before. This is Wikipedia’s answer to me. Obviously, I am no doctor. I don’t truly believe I can figure out what’s up on my own. But I can’t help but think this sounds exactly like what I described.
18-year-old female patient:Well, I have a sore throat and, uh...
Patient:*bursting into tears* I THINK I HAVE MONO!
Cranquis:*nudging Kleenex box in her direction* Why do you think that?
Patient:*all in one breath* Well because I woke up today, and I had this sore throat, and then I looked it up on the internet, and they were saying that if you have mono you'll be feeling really fatigued, and I didn't know what fatigue WAS, but when I looked THAT up, it said 'feeling tired and weak' and I've been feeling like that ever since yesterday, only maybe that's because I was out at a party until 1 am, and they said my spleen might be enlarged, and I don't even know what the spleen IS, and I think I have mono!
Cranquis:Well-l-l, it's possible. But it could just be a common cold virus, or it could be strep bacteria, too.
Patient:But I have ALL the symptoms of mono. I have sore throat and I'm tired!
Cranquis:*mumbling under my breath* Some days, I really HATE WebMD.
I’m going to be a medical student next fall and would also like to keep my blog running. What are the advantages of anonymity on the internet for doctors and what information is best kept private as possible? Are there specific issues I should think about if I do decide to tell readers about my identity?
First of all, surfnrunnr, bravo to you for being one of that Next Fresh Generation of Med Students: an internet-savvy web-friendly social-media-using boundary-pushing future physician. We (the current stale and moldy healthcare system) need as many of you as we can get!
Your timing for this question is quite appropriate, since I’ve just been having a small conversation with Tom (the 2nd-year med student who writes Medical State of Mind) about this very issue, and he’s written a few posts about it himself lately. You might want to ask him your question, from the point of view of “If you could ‘start over’ with your med-student blog, would you have kept your blog identified, or do you wish it was anonymous?” (I know he’s mentioned that his med school gave some vague advice/warnings about “being a med-student and a blogger” during his freshman orientation.)
I think anonymity for (present or future) “internet doctors” helps protect your “real-life” reputation. As I’ve mentioned before, for a doctor, reputation is everything. It doesn’t matter how skilled you are at your field – if your patients start hearing “bad” rumors about you, it’ll affect your bottom line. Even something as truly innocuous as a doc’s “HIPAA-compliant anonymous mumbled gripes” blog (or a blog you wrote BEFORE you became a doctor, on topics which have nothing to do with patient care) can be held up by employers or patients as “proof” that the doctor “doesn’t value patient-care or "doesn’t live up to [someone’s subjective] standards of being a physician” – and regardless of the truth, that claim would cause at least SOME patients to seek care elsewhere, or could even jeopardize your job.
Personally, even though I believe that I am an excellent physician and take my patient-care responsibilities seriously, I’ve chosen to keep a few things secret about myself: name, specific geographic location of my job, and details about my education/training (med school, residency, etc). Along with helping protect me and my job, my anonymity also makes it SO much easier to protect my patients’ privacy. If people knew my name and location of practice, it would be harder to keep patients’ identities secret/HIPAA-compliant.
Finally, writing this blog anonymously provides an extra layer of space between myself and my readers, which makes me more comfortable with providing public replies to questions about medical topics. I try to avoid the appearance of “establishing a doctor-patient relationship” on this blog, and I also don’t want to tread on any (lawsuit-happy) toes by appearing to be “practicing medicine outside of my state of licensure.” The entire field of “being an educated medical professional discussing medical information with complete strangers over the internet” is still filled with rocks and mines (when it comes to the opinions of the medical and legal status quo), so I’m treading carefully.
I hope my experiences help you make a decision as you proceed. Good luck with school!
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relationship status: single favorite color:dark blue pets: an absolute shithead of a dog cats or dogs: I used to be dogs, but ever since we got the aforementioned shithead it has been cats coke or pepsi: eh? coke i guess chapstick or lipstick: lmao i dont use either last song i listened to: idk but probably something by Florence + the Machine favorite TV show(s): I have no clue TV hasn’t been that good at catching my interests lately. Gravity Falls, maybe, or Archer. first fandom: in terms of internet fandom, I think doctor who, but more as an observer. I really got into fandom with The Mortal Instruments. hobbies: reading, running, shitposting, and I want to say writing but that’s a dirty lie.