Women in Medicine Summit

Women in Medicine Summit


Cawcutt K. Using social media to revolutionize medicine. Presented at: Women in Medicine Summit; Sept. 24-25, 2021 (virtual meeting).

Disclosures: Cawcutt reports no relevant financial disclosures.
September 28, 2021
3 min read

Social media ‘has the capacity to revolutionize medicine’


Cawcutt K. Using social media to revolutionize medicine. Presented at: Women in Medicine Summit; Sept. 24-25, 2021 (virtual meeting).

Disclosures: Cawcutt reports no relevant financial disclosures.
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During this year’s Women in Medicine Summit, Kelly Cawcutt, MD, MS, discussed the importance of properly using social media to network, promote important work and educate anyone willing to engage, saying it can “revolutionize medicine.”

“We think about how to revolutionize medicine, and the truth is, it starts with us,” said Cawcutt, an infectious disease physicians and co-director of digital innovation and social media strategy at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. “I do really believe that social media has the capacity to revolutionize medicine.”

Source: Adobe Stock.
Social media is an important tool for networking, sharing work and finding opportunities in the medical field, according to a presentation by Kelly Cawcutt, MD. Source: Adobe Stock.

The concept is not new to Cawcutt, who published an editorial on the potential importance of social media on medicine in 2017. In the paper, aptly titled “Twitter Me This,” Cawcutt discussed how social media can be used to share work and amplify the expertise of others.

She explained that, at that time, there were not a lot of medical divisions or departments on social media, and there were not a lot of health care workers on social media who were engaging professionally.

“I think one of the key aspects when we think about how to instigate revolution and change is to remember that social media is not what the revolution is; social media is the tool we use. It is something in our arsenal and the revolutions is the person behind the social media account” Cawcutt said.

With this concept in mind, Cawcutt used her presentation at the Women in Summit meeting to delve further into just how to best use social media to “revolutionize” medicine.

A major component of social media is creating an appropriate personal brand, which is “telling the story of who you are going to become,” through understanding who you are, what you do and how you do it, to proactively advance your professional status, Cawcutt said.

“The best part of knowing your brand is that you get to spend the rest of your leadership life being yourself vs. someone you’re not,” she said. “You need to remember, leadership does not require a title. We are all leaders who have the capacity to change and drive revolution on social media and in medicine.”

After understanding your brand, Cawcutt said that is when you can start to understand how social media can best work for you.

According to Cawcutt, in general, men and women in the medical field use social media slightly differently. Cawcutt explained that men tend to use social media to learn about new research topics and to build a professional network, whereas women tend to use social media more for motivation and to build a supporting network. (Another presenter at the meeting reported that most verified physicians on Twitter are men.)

“We as women, or our allies who are men, need to consider how we use social media really to bring women forward and build those meaningful professional networks and to use that education and academic and career promoting capacity for ourselves,” Cawcutt said.

To best do this, Cawcutt explained that before planning to use social media, someone must understand the different platforms and consider what type of content they want to share.

Twitter, for instance, has been “fantastic” as far as the medical community goes in terms of connecting via meaningful hashtags and sharing important works, she said.

When choosing the best platform, you must “be thoughtful,” Cawcutt said. “Think about what you want to do, what excites you as far as communication, who is on the other end, who are you trying to reach and how you can best choose a platform to really cater to the particular audience.”

Successfully establishing a presence on social media can lead to many meaningful connections and opportunities, Cawcutt said. In her presentation, she outlined a few opportunities, including chances to collaborate, educate and advocate for patients and colleagues. Cawcutt also has gained professional opportunities through social media, including an invitation via direct messaging on Twitter to be a section editor for a health care publication.

“People are not going to the news on TV or the newspapers anymore. People are flocking to social media, including the medical realms,” Cawcutt said. “I urge you not to be shy, not to hold back on social media as far as engaging with others, building networks, reaching out to someone you don’t know and haven’t had a chance to meet. Use this opportunity to build collaborations for your specialty, your organization and to diversify your portfolios.”


Cawcutt K. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2017;doi:10.1017/ice.2017.242.

Cawcutt K. Using social media to revolutionize medicine. Presented at: Women in Medicine Summit; Sept. 24-25, 2021 (virtual meeting).