Guide for New Twitter Users

Author: Andrew S. Wright MD (@andrewswright)

The International General Surgery Journal Club has chosen to use twitter to facilitate discussion of new and interesting scientific articles. Twitter is a fantastic resource, and there is already a wealth of discussion about surgery, healthcare, and medicine. Twitter can be a bit daunting at first, but is actually quite easy to use and can be invaluable for clinicians and researchers. The best way to get started is just jump in!

If you are new to twitter, the first thing to do is to sign up. Every twitter user has a username that starts with the @ symbol. As an example the twitter handle of the International General Surgery Journal Club is @IGSJC. An ideal twitter name is short, distinctive, and professionally appropriate.

When you set up your twitter account you can choose the amount of information about you that is made available to the public. Some people choose to stay anonymous on twitter, finding that it makes it easier to be candid and honest without worrying about the effect twitter comments have on professional reputation. Most prefer to be open about their identity, and even use it to enhance their professional standing and patient outreach. You can add a photo of yourself and a link to your professional or personal web page.

Once you have signed up for twitter you can choose people to follow. You will then automatically see those people’s tweets in your twitter feed. You may want to follow other surgeons, journals, news media, celebrities, or businesses. A list of some recommended twitter accounts to follow is at the bottom of this page.

Don’t feel obliged to post. Many people use twitter just to follow others and rarely post themselves. Otherwise may tweet many times a day. Remember that any post you make will be visible to anyone by default. You can protect your tweets in the Privacy settings on the twitter website. This will prevent your tweets being seen by anyone that you do not approve in advance, but will also limit your ability to participate in broader conversations like the journal club.

If you do post, remember that (in the words of Shakespeare) “brevity is the soul of wit.” You only have 140 characters to express your idea. Images or links to webpages and articles can be great additions to your posts.

Hashtags are sometimes added to posts to allow the post to be more easily found in a search, or to be part of a larger conversation. Hashtags are preceded by the # symbol. As an example, the IGSJC has chosen to use the hashtag #IGSJC. Any tweets made as part of the journal club discussion should include that hashtag, so that any interested parties can easily follow the discussion.

If you want to follow a discussion, you can run a search for a hashtag from the twitter website. For example, to follow the journal club discussion search for #igsjc. You can set up a more permanent search using widgits (found in the twitter settings menu), or through apps like TweetDeck that save and automatically update twitter searches. The most recent #IGSJC tweets will also always be found on the front page of the IGSJC website.

Additional Resources:

The Association of Women Surgeons posted a great “Twitter 101” blog post by Heather Logghe MD (@loggheMD) at

Twitter has a Getting Started guide and a FAQ that are both worth checking out.

Suggested Twitter Accounts to Follow:


  • American College of Surgeons: @AmCollSurgeons
  • Association of Women Surgeons: @WomenSurgeons
  • Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons: @SAGES_Updates
  • Lancet Commission on Global Surgery: ‏ @GSCommission
  • WomenSurgeons ‏ @WomenSurgeons

Prominent (or at least frequent) Surgeon Tweeters:

  • Andrew Wright @andrewswright
  • Mary L. Brandt MD @drmlb
  • Justin B. Dimick:‏ @jdimick1
  • David Tom Cooke ‏ @UCD_ChestHealth
  • William Harb ‏ @drwilliamharb
  • Rajesh Aggarwal ‏ @docaggarwal
  • Callie Thompson ‏ @callie_mt
  • Tom Varghese Jr @TomVargheseJr
  • Teodor Grantcharov ‏ @TGrantcharovMD
  • Chris Porter MD ‏ @PorterOnSurg
  • Atul Gawande @Atul_Gawande
  • Heather Evans ‏ @heatherevansmd
  • Christian Jones @jonessurgery
  • Ben Nwomeh @bnwomeh
  • Michael Zenilman @mzenilman
  • Amalia Cochran @AmaliaCochranMD
  • Niraj Gusani @nirajgusani

Medical and Surgical Blogs:

  • Kevin MD @KevinMD
  • Berci Meskó MD, PhD ‏ @Berci
  • OnSurg ‏ @GetOnSurg
  • Skeptical Scalpel ‏ @Skepticscalpel
  • Surgery 101 ‏ @surgery_101

Medical and Surgical Journals, Lay Press:

  • Surgical Endoscopy ‏ @SurgEndosc
  • General Surgery News ‏ @gensurgnews
  • NEJM ‏ @NEJM
  • JAMASurgery ‏ @JAMASurgery
  • JAMA ‏ @JAMA_current
  • Annals of Surgery ‏ @AnnalsofSurgery
  • NYTimes Health @nytimeshealth
  • NYTimes Well @nytimeswell

Another great way of finding interesting people/accounts to follow is to find a twitter user you like, click on their picture, and check out who they follow.

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