1. Butcher, Lola

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Twitter Bio: "Medical oncologist at University of Florida with focus on gyn cancers (#gyncsm) and lymphomas. Medical educator. Mother/wife/baker/writer."

Merry-Jennifer Markh... - Click to enlarge in new windowMerry-Jennifer Markham, MD. Merry-Jennifer Markham, MD

From her LinkedIn bio: "I am an academic hematologist-oncologist specializing in gynecologic cancers and lymphomas. Medical educator. Interests in cancer clinical trials, quality in cancer care, survivorship, and social media in medicine and medical education."


From her personal blog ( "I started the merry gourmet in 2010 as a food blog, a place for me to share recipes and document my experiences learning to cook and bake. Over the years, the blog has evolved and grown, as I have. It's not just about the recipes any longer. Here you'll find a collection of stories about food, life, and family. I've spoken at the International Food Blogger Conference in New Orleans in 2011, the TECHmunch Tampa in April 2012, BlogHer Food 2013 in Austin, and the Food and Wine Conference in Orlando in July 2014. I've been featured in a variety of places on the web, including Huffington Post: Cinnamon Peach Ice Cream; Gourmet Live's Food Blog of the Week; iVillage's The 10 Most Blogged About Recipes; and Best of the Blogs."


How did you come to be interested in social media?

Merry-Jennifer Markham, MD: "In medicine, physicians usually are thinking scientifically, writing academic papers, and it's all very left-brain. In patient care, we have some creativity, but certainly not what one would think of as typically creative. I needed something that would allow me to be more creative. My personal blog started out as a place for me to stretch the right side of my brain, and it has continued to do that for me. The blog is a great outlet to do something that requires a completely different way of thinking than I use in my everyday work life.


"Through blogging, I learned that there were all these other social media opportunities, the biggest one being Twitter. That's now probably one of my favorite forms of social media.

Figure. No caption a... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. No caption available.

"I started developing a Twitter presence personally at first, but I realized a few years ago that there was a good potential for having a professional Twitter presence. Until fairly recently, for physicians, it has been a largely untapped resource. Now, though, there are more and more physicians who are becoming active and engaged on Twitter."


What is the #gyncsm (Gynecologic Cancers Social Media) community?

"About 18 months ago, a group of us-including Don Dizon (@drdonsdizon); Matt Katz (@subatomicdoc); Rick Boulay (@journeycancer); Christina Lizaso (@btrfly12), an advocate; and Dee Sparacio (@womenofteal), who is an ovarian cancer survivor-were talking on Twitter one evening. We were having a casual conversation about creating a gynecologic cancers hashtag, and this led to the idea of a monthly Twitter chat. The #gyncsm chat is adapted from the breast cancer social media tweet chat (#bcsm).


"Our tweetchat is on the second Wednesday of the month at 9 pm Eastern. Dee and Christina, our moderators, organize our monthly topics, and on the night of the chat, we have a great online conversation. We have an excellent group of participants, including patients, caregivers, advocates, radiation oncologists, gynecologic oncologists, medical oncologists, psychologists, and anyone else who is on Twitter and interested. All of the chats are archived on the #gyncsm website that Dee and Christina put together (, which is also linked to the Twitter handle."


How do you use social media in your academic work?

"At my own institution, the University of Florida College of Medicine, I feel I've become the person who is most vocal about social media and medicine. I have given numerous talks and grand round lectures on social media and medicine at the university. I often speak about the use of social media in medical education, such as using blogs or Facebook pages for class groups or interest groups, or using Twitter to broaden educational experiences outside of the classroom. For example, for our oncology fellows, I started a password-protected blog for fellows to reflect on topics related to the art of oncology and on being a hematologist-oncologist.


"At the very first lecture I gave on social media, the theme of the comments afterwards was: 'I don't want my patients finding me on Twitter, I don't want patients friending me on Facebook.' That was four years ago. Now, physician audiences are more interested and curious, and I'm often asked to give more information on how to actually start using social media or to do a hands-on workshop. It has been great to see how the response has evolved from 'Why would I ever want to do this?' to 'That sounds interesting. Can you show me how?'"


How do you choose what to post on Twitter?

"When I post, I am not necessarily thinking of what are my followers interested in. Rather, I share things that I find interesting for some reason.


"What I like about Twitter is that you have to be authentic there for it to really work. If I am sharing something just to share and not because it has any meaning to me, I don't feel that I'm being authentic. The people I want to connect with on Twitter are those who are sharing information or links that are meaningful to them."


How has Twitter influenced your professional network?

"I love connecting with other people who are passionate about taking care of women with gynecologic cancers. I would love to see more research being done in this patient population and more research dollars being funneled towards the gynecologic cancers. So if anyone is talking about this topic in any way, I love participating in that conversation.


"Also, I like interacting with people who really care. The physicians and people I have connected with most on Twitter through #gyncsm are genuine and authentic, and they are doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. Nobody is getting paid to do it, and I like being a part of that.


"I have met several people in person after getting to know them on Twitter. I met Don Dizon and Rick Boulay at professional meetings only after we started the tweetchats. That's been one of the fun parts of social media-connecting in real life and seeing that these really cool, exciting, and interesting people online are exactly the same when you meet them in person."


Continuing Series

Check out the full archive of this award-winning series by Lola Butcher in this Collection on the OT website