A JK Rowling-inspired Plea to Hospitals’ Female Physicians: Use Social Media

flickr: Shannon Phantom

If I asked you who JK Rowling was, most of you would know. Author of the Harry Potter series, she’s credited with rescuing literacy for a generation with more ties to technology than books. My family owes her a personal debt for the many fond memories of snuggling on the couch as my husband read each Harry Potter book aloud.

However, I have a beef to pick with Ms. Rowling…when she first published, she decided not to use her first name, Joanne, on the book because she thought the audience for adventure books would not read a book written by a woman.

No one will ever know if the Harry Potter series would have been any less successful with her female name on the cover, but I doubt it.  And because of her success and her continued interactivity with her fans on social media, she’s not only a commercial success, but also an inspiration to aspiring female writers everywhere.    

The healthcare profession is certainly no stranger to the need to overcome gender bias, as Katherine Ellington explains in a guest post on KevinMD.com titled “Women in Medicine: Gender, Mentors and Role Models.” Ellington writes, “Women do need to seek out role models early in their careers, but it’s not enough. More significant is the understanding that if there’s no institutional, top-down approach to addressing the complexity of these issues; meritocracy alone will not break down barriers nor will change occur.”

As a mother of an 18-year-old daughter, I want to add to Ellington’s plea for more mentoring for female physicians, and add one small contribution as a possible solution –social media.

Female physicians are priceless

For teens and young women who struggle to make sense of their complex physical systems and the social pressures of body image, female physicians are priceless. We need more of them, and we need to make their work more visible.

Social media can be a powerful tool to help create a culture of acceptance for female physicians, support for those considering the profession and a credible and compassionate source of information for young females.

For hospitals, I see a tremendous opportunity for outreach to teens and young women in your region by encouraging the cooperative creation of healthcare content targeted to young females, created by female physicians sharing their expertise – from amenorrhea addressed by female gynecologists to acl injury prevention tips shared by female orthopedists.

A long-term impact

Creating a collaborative YouTube channel with informative videos and even facilitating online chat rooms (maybe in cooperation with female-based support groups like Girl Scouts, the National Girls Collaborative Project or girlshealth.gov). Girls seek health information from the Internet at a greater rate than boys (according to Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project). Can your hospital create a landing page on your website just for them to help them navigate to credible sources?

And if hospitals answer the call to use social media to meet the needs of the young women in their region, their efforts may also have a longer-term impact – contributing to Ellington’s hope that more photos gracing the walls of our hospital hallways and conference rooms might, in the future, resemble her.


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