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Using Social Media to Create a Professional Network Between Physician-Trainees and the American Society of Nephrology

  • Afreen I. Shariff
    Affiliations
    Department of Internal Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC; Department of Biostatistics, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC; and Department of Internal Medicine and Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
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  • Xiangming Fang
    Affiliations
    Department of Internal Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC; Department of Biostatistics, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC; and Department of Internal Medicine and Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
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  • Tejas Desai
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to Tejas Desai, MD, 2355 West Arlington Boulevard, Dialysis Offices, Greenville, NC 27834.
    Affiliations
    Department of Internal Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC; Department of Biostatistics, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC; and Department of Internal Medicine and Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
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      Twitter is the fastest growing social media network. It offers participants the ability to network with other individuals. Medical societies are interested in helping individuals network to boost recruitment, encourage collaboration, and assist in job placement. We hypothesized that the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) successfully used Twitter to create a network between participants and itself to stay connected with its members. Tweets from 3 Twitter networking sessions during Kidney Week 2011 were analyzed for content. These messages were used to create a network between all participants of the networking sessions. The network was analyzed for strength and influence by calculating clustering coefficients (CC) and eigenvector centrality (EC) scores, respectively. Eight moderators and 9 trainees authored 376 Twitter messages. Most tweets by trainees (64%) and moderators (61%) discussed 1 of 3 themes: networking, education, or navigating Kidney Week 2011. A total of 25 online network connections were established during the 3 sessions; 20% were bidirectional. The CC for the network was 0.300. All moderators formed at least 1 connection, but 7 of the 9 trainees failed to make any connections. ASN made 5 unidirectional and 0 bidirectional connections with a low EC of 0.108. ASN was unable to form powerful connections with trainees through Twitter, but medical societies should not be discouraged by the results reported in this investigation. As societies become more familiar with Twitter and understand the mechanisms to develop connections, these societies will have a greater influence within increasingly stronger networks.

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