Turn On, Tune In…
Just as telepathology replaces traveling for consultations, can social media stand in for water cooler chat?
Shortly before the winter break, I made the short trip to London for the Digital Pathology Congress (more here). I’ll soon be jetting off on some much longer journeys – to Los Angeles to do some science outreach, to Vancouver to see many of you at USCAP, and even to Sydney for The Pathologist’s inaugural visit to the southern hemisphere!
Visiting all of those destinations adds up to a lot of travel time. I’ve lost track of the hours spent in cars, on trains, in airport terminals over the last few years… In fact, I’m actually writing this editorial on a plane. I know that not everyone is as keen on business travel as I am – especially busy pathologists who might prefer to spend their free time with their families or pursuing other interests. Not to mention the coffee – it’s much better at home than at 30,000 feet.
Fortunately, the problem has already begun to resolve itself. The power of telepathology means that you no longer have to make a three-hour trek to a rural hospital that needs expert advice. You no longer have to drive your slides to the nearest piece of specialized imaging equipment. But what of the less formal benefits of traveling to other institutions? What about the five-minute consultations, the friendly advice, the cafeteria chat?
Missing those casual interactions, increasing numbers of pathologists are turning up on social media these days. The conversations that once took place around the coffeemaker now take place around the #coffeemaker (or perhaps not; insert your hashtag of choice). Pathologists are sharing their slides, techniques, top tips, and jokes on Twitter instead of reserving them only for colleagues they see in person. There are even social media-based journal clubs (see #pathjc) for those who want to learn alongside far-flung friends.
Of course, a virtual interaction will never be quite the same as a face-to-face one. But as travel gives way to telepathology, perhaps it is time to turn to social media to keep up with colleagues you don’t often see in person. Certainly, there’s no harm in giving it a try. And you might be surprised at the mileage you get without ever having to leave your own department. Oh – and if you want to get in touch, you can find me on Twitter at @MichaelPathMag!
While obtaining degrees in biology from the University of Alberta and biochemistry from Penn State College of Medicine, I worked as a freelance science and medical writer. I was able to hone my skills in research, presentation and scientific writing by assembling grants and journal articles, speaking at international conferences, and consulting on topics ranging from medical education to comic book science. As much as I’ve enjoyed designing new bacteria and plausible superheroes, though, I’m more pleased than ever to be at Texere, using my writing and editing skills to create great content for a professional audience.