With great (digital) power comes great responsibility #WILTW

This is the 140th #WILTW

While technically the world isn’t getting any smaller the ability to effectively communicate across large distances often makes it feel that way. Digital platforms have connected diverse networks in a fashion that wouldn’t have been possible a decade ago and there are a variety of social media in which to engage and entertain.

A paper written with colleagues in America, Canada was published last week. We postulated about the existence and development of new types of digital scholar to promote and enhance knowledge translation. Translating knowledge from academic literature and expert consensus into clinal practice has been a constant challenge in healthcare.

In order to provide quality care to patients, health care professionals need to remain up-to-date on best practice. It is well recognised that evidence can be poorly applied, and even ignored. While undoubtedly our three types of scholar are not new we hope that defining their characteristics will help others understand the role they, and others can have, in improving knowledge translation.

There is a subtle flip side to our construct however. What are our responsibilities to adopt these roles? The influence of those with large numbers of followers or those who connect at important network intersections can be quite substantial. While you must abide with your regulator’s guidance on social media this is no compunction to be a proponent of good medical practice. Indeed actively avoiding medical discussion is the sole purpose of some professionals use of social media.

But the world will continue to be an increasingly smaller place. Whether we like it our not our digital footprint could be as substantial as our physical one. Whether a fellow or first year, professor or practitioner we probably do have responsibilities to aid diffusion of knowledge should the opportunity arise. And while not everyone needs to be a critical clinician or translational teacher those that adopt this role should be mindful of the responsibility they have.

What have you learnt this week? #WILTW

Thanks @Brent_Thoma @MDaware @TChanMD (and @CJEMonline)

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