AmEdNews: Anonymous Posts: Liberating Or Unprofessional


About a week ago, I was interviewed by Kevin O'Reilly of American Medical News for the article "Anonymous Posts: Liberating Or Unprofessional" published today on their website. Kevin said that he hadn't heard of my Doctor Anonymous" work until after I re-branded myself as me. I mean, hey, how could you have not heard of me (hehe).

We had a great conversation where I even gave him a little history lesson of how it was "back in the day" in 2005-06 when the majority of physician bloggers were anonymous. Remember bloggers like Surgeonsblog? PandaBear? FatDoctor? And others? Here are my quotes from today's article.

When he started blogging as Doctor Anonymous in 2006, Mike Sevilla, MD, used the outlet to frequently express his frustrations with noncompliant patients and as a way to process his emotions. "If there was a case that was really on my mind here at the office or in the hospital, then I would write about it, then post it and be done with it," said Dr. Sevilla, a family physician in Salem, Ohio.

In March, Dr. Sevilla decided to start blogging and tweeting under his own name. He said he changed course, in part, because he realized that his anonymity was not secure. Dr. Sevilla no longer writes about specific patients and exercises more self-censorship. There was some value in writing anonymously, he said. "I miss being able to share some of those raw, core emotions," he said. "A lot of that stuff I'd write and not edit it. I would just send it out as one take, kind of release it and then move on."

Today's article opens with our good friend @BurbDoc, who is, at the moment, the most notorious anonymous physician tweeter (or at least we think she/he is a physician). I have talked to a lot of people about @BurbDoc in the past, but, as far as I know, this is the first written opinion I have seen. Even though it was not printed in the article, I told Kevin that I didn't think that those tweets were unprofessional, namely because that is what I was doing when I started my blogging life.

Now, do I do that now? No. The article then goes into the beginnings of my blogging life when I was talking about patient. What the article didn't say was that at some point in the past (probably around the Dr. Flea time), I deleted A LOT of those posts and I no longer talk about patients because I don't think talking about patients is a good idea. Some of you out there are probably saying that I'm a hypocrite now for saying that, but how I defend that is I have went through a social media evolution in the past few years.

When I tell the story of the Doctor Anonymous blog in my social media presentations (along with my conversation with Kevin), I started my blog with the idea of bringing my readers inside the exam room to tell the story of how it is to practice medicine in the United States health care system. There is some good and there is some bad.

I wrote some of those posts because I didn't know what else to do with all that emotion that was going through my mind on those tough days. Since then, I have found other outlets to express those emotions. But, back then, blogging was very therapeutic for me. In addition, in the social media enviroment at the time, the majority of popular physician bloggers were anonymous. So, the norm was being anonymous.

I wrote this post today to give some clarity to today's AmMedNews article and to fill in some gaps that I thought were lacking in the article. Don't get me wrong, I really appreciate Kevin talking with me and the other physicians in the article. If you have further questions for me on this topic, please feel free to contact me through the website here, and I'll be happy to try to address any of your questions.