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what inspires a doctor to tweet?

That's the question I was asked by Michael Hemphill for the Roanoke Times (@Roanoketimes) last week for the "One question" Sunday feature that appeared in today's paper.

My answer was kind of long-winded, but I think he captured most of the conversation pretty well (and, combined with the photograph by Brett Lemon (@BrettLemon) the article took up 2/3 of the back page of the business section).

In the article I spoke about my inspiration to blog--which came from reading Paul Levy's (@paulflevy) blog which used to be called "Running a hospital" and now that he has retired as CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, it is titled "Not running a hospital."

From the first time I read Paul's blog back in 2006 I knew I wanted to have the opportunity to talk about issues important in my medical world (health care for kids) and how those issues impact health care delivery in our region. And I wanted, like Paul, to provide insight into how medical leadership makes decisions, especially the hard decisions we face daily with regard to personnel, budgets, quality, etc.

It looked easy.

I thought I would just sit down every day or so and write what was happening, or what was on my mind. That I would spend 20-30 minutes a day writing "stuff" and you would read it.

But once I started I found it was much harder to do than it looked. I was reluctant to write about anything that I hadn't fully researched, so I could provide links to articles in the literature. I had not "found my voice." I asked some followers of the Seattle Mama Doc blog by Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson (@SeattleMamaDoc) to look at my blog and leave comments. They thought I was being too academic, and that my blog wouldn't appeal to everyday people. They were right. So I have worked on making my blog more personal, while still keeping it grounded in current issues.

The blog receives a couple thousand visits a month, on average, but each post only generates a few comments. I was hoping for a conversation around these topics, which hasn't happened--yet.

And that is what eventually led me to join Twitter.

As I described to the reporter (who doesn't have much experience in social media) I have discovered that Twitter is a great place to meet people, to network with peers, to find mentors, to interact with parents of patients, experts in a variety of fields, and so on.  As I told the reporter, I found Mark Schaefer's (@markwschaefer) book: "The Tao of Twitter" to be extraordinarily helpful in navigating the twittersphere. I now recommend the book to everyone who is considering using Twitter for networking or business, or who is already involved but not satisfied with how its working. Beyond that, and what Michael didn't include in the article, is the fact that through Twitter I have been able to communicate directly with Mark, and he has been as genuinely helpful to me as he urges others to be in his book.

I am glad you dropped by, and I understand if you are too busy to leave a comment. But now that you know how much I really want to hear from you, I hope you will stay for just a couple more moments and drop me a line.

Let me know how I am doing. Or just say hi. It can get kind of lonely not knowing who's out there.

And I particularly want to know how I could do better, what topics would meet your needs, and what topics would get you to leave me a comment!

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