Social Media in Medicine - Minneapolis VA Grand Rounds

Paul Sufka

Launching @ACR_Journals Account as Social Media Editor

Paul Sufka

I’m honored to announce that I’ll be working as social media editor for the newly formed @ACR_Journals social media account on Twitter, curating online content for the official American College of Rheumatology Journals: Arthritis & Rheumatology, Arthritis Care & Research, and the soon to be launched (on March 15th), ACR Open Rheumatology.

A great portion of my personal rheumatology knowledge has been enhanced by connections and friendships that have formed via Twitter, and I have greatly enjoyed trying to contribute to the knowledge of others as well. If we have interacted in any way online, Thanks!

If you’re not already, please follow the @ACR_Journals account on Twitter, and I’ll do my best to share the best knowledge from these journals in the most innovative ways I can come up with.

I’ll be getting things set up for the next couple weeks, but things should be running around full speed by April 1st.

I’m always open for suggestions. If you have any ideas on ways that I can make the experience better, feel free to reach out to me via @ message or DM on Twitter: @psufka.

My Top Priorities at a Medical Meeting

Paul Sufka

“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.” — Seneca

This year will be the tenth consecutive American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting that I have been able to attend. Each year, I have spent time prior to each meeting thinking about how to best optimize my time there, so below is my current approach to prioritizing time at a major medical meeting.

1. Networking. In 2012, I wrote a post titled Optimizing Your Meeting Experiences, suggesting, “it is important to remember the one thing that you can do at a meeting that you can’t do anywhere else: meet with people.” As such, networking is far and above my highest priority at ACR.

Because time at the meeting is obviously limited, with only a few exceptions, if a opportunity to talk with someone comes up that results in skipping a lecture, I’ll just catch highlights on Twitter (see my post: Three Steps to Keep Up With Twitter at a Major Medical Meeting) and/or plan on watching the lecture online with ACR Beyond Live.

Where to network, if you’re an introvert (like me):

  • If you’re reading this post, you’re likely on social media, so I suggest checking out the #ACR18 Tweet Up on Sunday from 2:30–4:00pm in room W179b.
  • The poster hall and the exhibit hall are some of the best places to network.
  • Take time after lectures to meet with speakers and/or moderators.
  • If someone is on social media and has similar interests, don’t be afraid to reach out to them and offer to grab coffee or lunch with them.
  • ACR’s list of Networking opportunities at ACR18.

2. Exercise & Rest. Both exercise and rest will make your time much more effective. Research has clearly shown that exercise improves learning, and that sleep promotes memory formation.

If needed, schedule time for exercise on your calendar. The number one thing that I look at when booking hotels for the meeting is the fitness center (Google image search is a great way to figure out what equipment the hotel gym will have).

It can be difficult to prioritize sleep during a meeting, which makes it a good time to try a coffee nap.

3. Lectures. The most important principle for attending lectures is having a low threshold to walk out of any session that isn’t benefiting you. Again, time is limited, and you can always catch highlights on Twitter and/or watch the lecture online later. Because of this, I generally plan on going to sessions that I expect to be either high-yield, or that colleagues or friends are presenting.

4. Social media. In spare moments, I keep up with the #ACR18 hashtag on Twitter. As always, I’ll generally tweet out a fairly steady stream of whatever knowledge I’m exposed to.

Rheumatology Mastermind Group on Slack

Paul Sufka

“Make no small plans” — attributed to Daniel Burnham

The field of medicine can be isolating in many ways — especially in that it can be difficult to identify peers who have had similar specialized training, and are therefore going through similar difficulties.

After a recent discussion on Twitter, we’re starting a private Rheum-mastermind group on Slack.

According to wikipedia, a mastermind group is “ a peer-to-peer mentoring concept used to help members solve their problems with input and advice from the other group members.”

A few initial thoughts at the time of launch:
1. This will be a private group, hopefully to allow people to ask questions more openly about difficult topics — career advice, practice management, lifestyle, job hunting.
2. Initially, I don’t think anything will be off limits (expect a need to respect HIPAA privacy).
3. I would highly encourage the use of direct messaging within Slack, especially if you connect with another member. Better yet, connect via phone or video/FaceTime/Skype.

Don’t worry If you’re not familiar with Slack. The built in tutorials are extremely helpful.

I’ll send out direct messages via Twitter to everyone that has shown interest. If I miss you, feel free to @ or DM me — I’m @psufka on Twitter.

Books Worth Reading a Second Time

Paul Sufka

“We should be choosing what to keep, not what to get rid of.” – Marie Kondo

Here’s the short list of books that I finished in 2017 that I though were so good that I read them a second time:

When Breath Becomes Air by Dr. Paul Kalanithi

The life wisdom shared by the brilliant writer and neurosurgeon, Dr. Paul Kalanithi, in the face of his own stage IV cancer diagnosis makes it a book that every human should read.

My favorite quote from the book, when Paul and his wife, Lucy, are considering whether to have a child in the face of his diagnosis is one of the few quotes that brings me to tears:

“Will having a newborn distract from the time we have together?” she asked. “Don’t you think saying goodbye to your child will make your death more painful?”

”Wouldn’t it be great if it did?” I said. Lucy and I both felt that life wasn’t about avoiding suffering.”

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss

Physicians generally don’t get enough training in the major meta-like skills, and while there are other great books on negotiation (Getting to Yes, Secrets of Power Negotiating) that are also worth reading, these often feel too theoretical to apply to daily life.

In the case of Never Split the Difference, author Chris Voss is a former FBI hostage negotiator that teaches tactics are refined enough for use in life and death situations (the situations he describes in the book are worth reading on their own), but work just as well for negotiating your cable bill.

What books have you read more than once? Let me know in the comments below or else let me know on Twitter @psufka.

HealthPartners Orthopedic Surgery Grand Rounds: Rheumatology Update

Paul Sufka

Download PDF of slides (1.3 MB).


2016 Book and Documentary Recommendations

Paul Sufka

Painting: Renoir, Pierre-Auguste. (1880-1). Luncheon of the Boating Party, Washington DC: The Phillips Collection.

“I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

I initially set myself the goal of reading one book per week for 2016, and although a pair of books I’ll mention below kept me from reaching my goal, I was able to read (and thanks to Audible, listen to) a ton of great books this year. (Follow what I’m reading on Goodreads). Below are the best five books (and one documentary) that I came across this year.


I’m not typically a big fan of fiction, so I only have one suggestion here. I heard Chris Sacca recommend How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid on two separate occasions, so I had to check it out. For this one, I listened to the Audible version, since it was narrated by the author. This is a novel written in the style of a self-help book, giving a dark, first-person account of a nameless poor boy who becomes a wealthy tycoon.  

Non-fiction: History and the Future

  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari followed by Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom. These are the two long, dense books that kept me from my goal of a book per week, but it was completely worth it. Sapiens (464 pages) gives an overview of human history through the perspective of four different revolutions: cognitive, agricultural, and scientific, and will improve your understanding of how Homo sapiens have been able to survive, thrive and conquer. Superintelligence (390 pages) takes a look at the current state of artificial intelligence, how a superintelligenece will eventually form (it’s inevitable), and ideas on how we should develop these systems to maintain control.

Non-fiction: Personal Development

  • Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin and Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday.  In the author’s own words, Extreme Ownership: “explains the SEAL leadership concepts crucial to accomplishing the most difficult missions in combat and how to apply them to any group, team, or organization.” I suggest pairing this book with Ego Is the Enemy, which uses underpinnings in stoic philosophy and well selected stories to teach the reader to: “Forget yourself and focus on the work. Be humble and persistent. Value discipline and results, not passion and confidence. Be lesser, do more” (from Derek Sivers editorial review). 



Somm (available on Netflix and iTunes) follows four people trying to pass the Master Sommelier Diploma, a title currently only earned by 233 people in the world. Beyond the wine knowledge displayed in this movie, this documentary is also a look at what it takes to become the best of the best in a field, and resembles Jiro Dreams of Sushi in the depth of mastery displayed. 

Three Steps to Keep Up With Twitter at a Major Medical Meeting

Paul Sufka

Washington Monument Reflecting pool
by AaronMosh7 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

“Consider getting smaller in order to get bigger.” — Sir Richard Branson

Many people feel a bit of overwhelm at the idea of using social media during a medical meeting. These same people are recognizing the many benefits of using social media: connecting with others, actively learning, and promoting their work.

(This post is going to focus on using Twitter efficiently, but if you’re interested in digging deeper into what you can do, take a look at my talk from the 2016 ACR Program Directors’ Conference: Using Twitter in Medical Education and links to prior social media summaries from ACR 2014 and ACR 2015.)

Using Twitter during the meeting doesn’t have to be difficult or significantly time consuming.

If you’re completely new to Twitter, read these first: Mom This is How Twitter Works and #RheumJC: Intro to Twitter first.

Once you’re comfortable with the basic terminology of Twitter, these are my three suggestions:

  1. Follow everyone tweeting at the meeting. The easiest way to do this is to find a meeting list on Twitter. For #ACR16, I suggest following everyone on the #ACR16 Twitter list curated by the official @ACRheum account.
  2. After you’re following everyone at the meeting, use the Nuzzel website or app (iOS | Android) to catch up on highlights from people you’re following from the last 24 or 48 hours, (which shows the most important tweets in your timeline, according to RTs and likes). It can also send you a daily email that you can review later. (For more details, see my prior post about how I keep myself on a low information diet using Nuzzel).
  3. If you’re using a laptop at the meeting, try using on your web browser to more efficiently follow and participate in the #ACR16 hashtag in real-time. Bonus: will automatically include the hashtag in your tweets so that you’re included in the conversation.

What I’m Looking Forward to at #ACR16

Paul Sufka


“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” — Benjamin Franklin

The ACR Annual Meeting (#ACR16) is such a huge event that it’s worth your time to spend an hour or two planning your time at the meeting. (I highly suggest Dr. Philip Gardiner’s post: How to make the most of a medical conference….)

I continue to follow my approach to Optimizing Your Meeting Experiences, inspired by Seth Godin’s blog post on conference planning where he suggests going to a conference in search of “engaged conversations.”

At this point, I generally attend sessions that I want to talk to the speaker afterwards, and make note of other sessions that I want to watch later online through SessionSelect.

Besides this, I suggest scheduling some time every day to exercise during the meeting. Really: put it in your calendar. (Alternatively: schedule a caffeine nap.)

Here’s my tentative #ACR16 session schedule: