By Josh Katzowitz, WCI Content Director
Most physicians don’t get all the financial training they need while in medical school or residency. And apparently, many of the current-day med students/residents aren’t learning enough about the dangers of social media either, particularly if you’re prone to writing careless things for a wider-than-you-can-imagine audience who might be looking for any reason to pounce on you.
Late last month, a fourth-year medical student in North Carolina responded on Twitter to a doctor who said she wore a pin on her work badge that mentioned her pronouns and how she had been berated by some patients for it. The medical student quote-tweeted that statement and reportedly wrote the following:
“I had a patient I was doing a blood draw on see my pronoun pin and loudly laugh to the staff ‘She/Her? Well of course it is! What other pronouns even are there? It?’
I missed his vein so he had to get stuck twice.”
The implication, of course, was that she stuck him more than once as a punishment for not subscribing to her political views (or for laughing at them).
No matter what side of the political aisle you reside on, this is obviously a horrendous action. Even if she was exaggerating her story for her Twitter audience to make a point, it’s an absolutely terrible idea for a social media post—and it’s having real-world consequences.
After the medical student wrote her tweet and after a number of media outlets picked up on it, the Wake Forest University School of Medicine announced it would be addressing the issue with the student (who had deleted the tweet), writing, “This student’s tweet does not reflect how Wake Forest University School of Medicine treats patients and provides patient care.”
Since then, multiple reports quoting a Wake Forest spokesperson said the student was no longer working with patients and had been placed on a leave of absence. The spokesperson also explained that while the student did stick the patient a second time, it was because she was inexperienced with the procedure and not because of their political disagreement.
Either way, the media will move on, and the incident will largely be forgotten.
But because of her callous words, the incident will probably follow her, possibly for years. If you google the student’s name now, nine of the first 10 results (and 17 of the first 20) are all about her tweet.
All of which means: DON’T TWEET STUPID STUFF!
“I'm shocked by this conduct if it really did happen, if she really did intentionally harm this patient,” Cheryl Erwin, a medical education professor and the director of the center for ethics and humanities at Texas Tech University, said, via Yahoo. “It may be minor, but it is a violation of your first responsibility as a health professional: do no harm. . .
Medical professionals need to remember they don’t walk away from their role. They have an obligation not to post things on social media that are harmful.”
And it could really cost you—your money and your career.
Think about it: Say you’ve gone through four years of college and four years of medical school. You know you’re going to owe $350,000 of student loans when you’re done that could take years to pay back. You’re banking on your $250,000 attending salary and 2-5 years of living like a resident just to get you back to broke.
But what happens if you don’t match because you tweeted something foolish? What if you were hired for a residency spot and then you bragged on social media about allegedly assaulting a patient? What if you wrote 46 simple words on Twitter and then torpedoed your career (and millions of dollars of income) because of it?
In 2018, a resident who had previously posted anti-Semitic sentiments and threatened to give Jews the wrong kinds of medicine was fired and then barred from practicing medicine. In the age of COVID, a number of docs who used their social media accounts to spew misinformation also were punished with either suspensions or terminations (and they could end up losing their licenses).
Though the generation of 20-somethings who are graduating medical school and matching into residencies grew up on the internet and have probably spent years on social media, some of them clearly don’t realize that what you write online has the ability to ping-pong across the world and potentially destroy your career in a matter of minutes.
All of which means: THINK BEFORE YOU TWEET!
I didn’t register for a Twitter account or get on Facebook until I was in my 20s, so there was certainly a learning curve for me on social media. But perhaps some old-school advice is still applicable in this new-school age. I was taught as a kid that if you were mad about something or if you had been treated unfairly, you should sit down with a pen and paper and write a letter. Pour out all your emotions on that blank sheet. Make your case. Explain why you had been wronged.
Then . . . you wait a day. You sleep on it. You get your mind off the topic for a few hours.
Then, the next morning, you take a look at the letter you wrote. Still feel angry and upset and disrespected? Then, send the letter to the person who needs to see it. But chances are high that you’ll have calmed down and that you won’t feel the need to send the letter any more. You will have made your point to the universe, even if nobody else will get to see it.
Maybe people should wait a few hours before they tweet something or post something incendiary on Facebook. Take a deep breath, let the emotion settle for a beat. Then, maybe you won't tweet about harming a patient.
Or maybe medical schools should be more diligent in teaching their students about social media.
Last week, I reached out to a few medical students to ask about their schools’ social media guidelines. One told me that her school had offered absolutely zero social media training. One told me that she had received some training. And one told me that his school was serious about making sure its students were aware, making them sign a social media policy and repeatedly sending students the document to review and remind them of the guidelines.
Even the smartest people can do the most foolish things. Don’t spew out social media posts without giving them any thought. Don’t brag about allegedly harming patients because they disagree with you. Don’t tweet stupid things. Don’t let it cost your career.
What I’m Reading This Week
Some Match Day Stats
Now that Match Day is complete and those who have been hired for residencies have begun planning for their new roles (and figuring out if and when they should pay off their student loans), the National Matching Registry Program released some interesting data points on the 2022 Match.
The Match was the largest ever with 39,205 total spots and with 36,277 first-year positions open (a 3.1% increase from 2021). Overall, 47,675 applicants registered for the Match (a decrease of 2.1% from 2021) and 42,549 of those submitted a rank order list. As for those who matched into a residency, the rate of 80.1% was a 1.6 percentage increase from the year before.
Emergency Medicine had the biggest growth in actual PGY-1 positions followed by Family Medicine, Psychiatry, and Internal Medicine. Interestingly, all those specialties also saw a decrease in the percentage of spots filled, though.
For a good breakdown of the rest of the stats, check out Life of a Med Student.
Happy Anniversary to an Important Column
One of my favorite speakers at WCICON22 was Michelle Singletary and her keynote presentation on “Where Much Is Given, Much Is Required” (you can see all of it on the Continuing Financial Education 2022 course). I chatted with her afterward to get her take on growing up without a financial role model and for another column coming in the future, and she was a sheer delight.
Now, she’s celebrating the 25th anniversary of her Washington Post column “The Color of Money,” and she wrote about the influence of her grandmother and how she was so frugal that “if she held a penny, Lincoln would scream.” But she didn’t take all of her grandmother’s advice either, and that’s led her to where she is today.
Check out her anniversary column. It’s a good one.
Another Crypto Hack
Now, you can add the NFT-based game Axie Infinity to the list. According to the Daily Dot, about $625 million worth of cryptocurrency was stolen from Ronin Network, an Ethereum-linked sidechain for the popular game.
In a statement, Ronin explained that its chain consists of nine validator nodes, which authors new nodes on the block and is a quicker way of making transactions. The attacker managed to take control of the majority of those validator nodes, and as the Daily Dot explained, “After exploiting five out of the eight nodes, the attacker could approve any transactions and withdraw whatever money they wanted.”
“As we’ve witnessed, Ronin is not immune to exploitation and this attack has reinforced the importance of prioritizing security, remaining vigilant, and mitigating all threats,” the company said in the statement. “We know trust needs to be earned and are using every resource at our disposal to deploy the most sophisticated security measures and processes to prevent future attacks.”
Money Song of the Week
A buddy of mine recently took home a six-figure sum by winning a poker tournament with more than 2,200 players. I once triumphed in a local No Limit Hold ‘Em tournament of about 70 players and, believe me, I felt like the 1987 version of Hulk Hogan in the days and months afterward. I can’t imagine beating out more than 2,000 other people and taking home 265 times what you paid to buy in to the tournament.
So, in celebration, let’s listen to “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers, revel in the story told during this 1978 song, and breathe in those iconic lyrics of “You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em/Know when to walk away and know when to run.”
Of course, you should know that this song isn’t only about poker. It’s about investing and your money and your life. Rogers sings, “If you're gonna play the game, boy/You gotta learn to play it right,” and William Bernstein says, “If you’ve won the game, stop playing.” As it relates to white coat investors, it’s wise to listen to both men.
Tweet of the Week
A fascinating story from the mouth of the late Grammy-award winning folk singer.
Harry Chapin tells a short story about his grandfather. This is pure. pic.twitter.com/y0QXYavTtH
— Phil Bak 🎩 (@philbak1) March 29, 2022
Did you receive social media training from your job or your school? Have you ever tweeted something that got you into trouble? Could you have beaten Kenny Rogers in a heads-up Hold ‘Em match? Comment below!
[Editor's Note: Josh Katzowitz is the Content Director for The White Coat Investor, and his work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and CBSSports.com. A longtime sports writer, he covers boxing for Forbes, and his work has been cited twice in the Best American Sports Writing book series. For comments, complaints, suggestions, or plaudits, email him at [email protected]]