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Ideas and Opinions |

Professionalism in the Digital Age

Arash Mostaghimi, MD, MPA; and Bradley H. Crotty, MD
[+] Article and Author Information

From Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.


Grant Support: By an Institutional National Research Service Award T32HP12706 (Dr. Crotty) and the Division of General Medicine and Primary Care at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Potential Conflicts of Interest: Disclosures can be viewed at www.acponline.org/authors/icmje/ConflictOfInterestForms.do?msNum=M10-2672.

Requests for Single Reprints: Bradley H. Crotty, MD, Division of General Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 330 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215; e-mail, bcrotty@bidmc.harvard.edu.

Current Author Addresses: Dr. Mostaghimi: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 330 Brookline Avenue W/D311, Boston, MA 02215.

Dr. Crotty: Division of General Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 330 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215.

Author Contributions: Conception and design: A. Mostaghimi, B.H. Crotty.

Drafting of the article: A. Mostaghimi, B.H. Crotty.

Critical revision of the article for important intellectual content: A. Mostaghimi, B.H. Crotty.

Final approval of the article: A. Mostaghimi, B.H. Crotty.

Administrative, technical, or logistic support: A. Mostaghimi, B.H. Crotty.


Ann Intern Med. 2011;154(8):560-562. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-154-8-201104190-00008
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The increased use of social media by physicians, combined with the ease of finding information online, can blur personal and work identities, posing new considerations for physician professionalism in the information age. A professional approach is imperative in this digital age in order to maintain confidentiality, honesty, and trust in the medical profession. Although the ability of physicians to use online social networks, blogs, and media sites for personal and professional reasons should be preserved, a proactive approach is recommended that includes actively managing one's online presence and making informed choices about disclosure.

The development of a “dual-citizenship” approach to online social media that separates public and private personae would allow physicians to both leverage networks for professional connections and maintain privacy in other aspects. Although social media posts by physicians enable direct communication with readers, all posts should be considered public and special consideration for patient privacy is necessary.

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