Residents, Educators, and the Secret Handshake

socialized_medicineBy Bryan Vartabedian, MD

It seems that recently, some of the residents applying to our hospital’s residency programs have known who I was and I’ve known who they were. But we had never made eye contact. I had studied their public profiles, read their blogs, met their friends, and followed their thinking. I was approached recently and asked if there was some kind of secret society going on.

There is a society of sorts, but it’s not secret and there’s no handshake. It’s called the public conversation, and trainees are increasingly part of it. Smart future leaders now recognize the value of an online presence. They’re the people we want in our training programs.

As educators, we should be there to meet them. Interaction with future residents and fellows will no longer be an episodic, one-time event, but rather an ongoing effort that unspools into a continuum. The trainee of the future will have a footprint and a story that goes beyond the limits of a 20-minute interview. And just as we want to know them, they will want to know us. The training program of the future will be visible beyond the fluorescent glare of the traditional office.

We must work to integrate with students where they are. For programs that want to remain competitive, public engagement will no longer be an option.

Vartabedian—Bryan Vartabedian, MD, is a pediatric gastroenterologist at Texas Children’s Hospital/Baylor College of Medicine. He writes the “Socialized Medicine” column for Wing of Zock and blogs at 33Charts.

0 thoughts on “Residents, Educators, and the Secret Handshake

  1. Bryan:

    You provide a great example of the concept of ‘networked weather’…when an ecosystem is so tightly interconnected that changes in one part of the ecosystem affect changes in the other parts. Martin Weller writes about this in his book “The Digital Scholar” – the ‘society’ that is emerging via social media is (as we all hoped) pulling the rest of the healthcare profession forward at a rate that many will find impossible to believe.

    Those who participate in the public dialog are better known.
    Those who participate in the public dialog have access to more information, have more connections, experience more serendipitous benefits.
    Those who participate in the public dialog maintain ownership over their own reputation.
    Those who participate in the public dialog help steer the broadest professional conversations.

    Thank you for sharing this message… and thank you for impacting the forecast of healthcare’s future.


  2. Thank you, Brian. That’s very kind. I need to read this book, for sure. I think we’re beginning to see the emergence of a new type of thought leader in medicine. One centered in public dialog and wide open thinking. Public medicine is good for us from the perspective of transparency, spread of ideas and connection.

    I’ll look for The Digital Scholar.