Professionalism in the digital age

Ann Intern Med. 2011 Apr 19;154(8):560-2. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-154-8-201104190-00008.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Disclosure
  • Ethics, Professional*
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Physicians / ethics*
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Privacy