Social Media - Guide To Twitter

Social media are technologies that facilitate interactions between users through internet-based platforms. Specifically, Twitter is a worldwide, public platform open to anyone. Tweets, which are short messages (maximum length 280 characters) that can include links or other media such as images and videos. The departmental twitter account is @UofTanesthesia  - follow us!

We have put together some guidelines and best practices to help physicians navigate Twitter safely. If you do not have a twitter account and would like to open one, follow our step-by-step guide for instructions and Twitter Guide.

Send us and email at with any questions or commments.


  • This is a public realm for anyone to see, your public account is a reflection of yourself as a professional. Maintain professionalism, always.
  •  Your interactions also represent the University of Toronto Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine.
  • Never post patient identifying information, including any details or photos in interesting cases that could allow the patient to identify themselves. Consider changing identifying information to anonymize your post. If you do have permission from patients to post to a public forum, it would be prudent to include that explicitly within your post. Post the clinical pearl, not the patient!
  • Do not tweet emotionally.
  • Re-read your tweets before posting.
  • Be as accurate as possible. Consider including quotes or citing the reference or author’s handle to add credibility.
  • Do not tweet or interact in a manner that could create perceived conflicts of interest.
  • Any interactions with patients must be within appropriate physician-patient boundaries and there should not be any public discussion of the patient’s medical care.


  • Make it obvious you are posting as a physician, make sure everything appears professional and credible.
  • Use your real name, and add an indicator of your status (i.e. Dr, MD, etc.).
  • Choose a professional twitter handle , most people use their name (i.e @DrJaneDoe).
  • Add your own photo (this improves credibility and engagement).
  • Add a header photo (the larger image on top), make sure it is high quality.
  • Add a concise profile biography, including words or phrases that indicate any professional titles or are relevant to your interests; consider including twitter handle or links.
  • Consider adding a disclaimer to your bio (although this does not guarantee legal protections of your posts), for example “RT are not endorsements. Opinions are my own.”


  • Be engaging, monitor your account, respond to people responding to your tweets.
  • Include an image whenever possible.
  • Include a link whenever possible.
  • Use hashtags when appropiate
  • If there are people you think would be interested or should be in the know, tag them by including their handle (for example @UofTanesthesia).
  • Tweet regularly, ideally once a day or once a week, but only with valuable content. Do not tweet just for the sake of generating tweets.
  • Follow as many people or organizations as you can, especially those relevant to your practice or areas of interest. This will ensure you are contributing to conversations where you are an expert and have significant insight.

This guide was written by Dr. Nan Gai (@nanesthetist) with contributions from Dr. Fiona Campbell (@DrFCampbell) and the Social Media Committee


Tweet: a post that can include text, links, or other media (images or videos) limited in length to 280 characters.

Handle (@): essentially a username. Every account has a unique handle, which is a single string of text starting with the @ symbol with no spaces. These can be included in tweets to mention specific accounts or people that might have an interest in the topic you are discussing. Using these will alert that account that you have mentioned them.

Hashtag (#): essentially a label. It is a word or phrase (without spaces) beginning with the # symbol that can be clicked or used to search for any tweet mentioning that hashtag.

Retweet (RT): a way to react to a tweet that essentially re-posts someone else’s tweet to your timeline to share it and ensure credit is given to the original poster.

Like: a way to react to a tweet that will not show up to your main timeline, but shows you support the message. [A RT is a stronger endorsement than a Like].

Direct Message (DM): a private message to another Twitter user.

Feed: a list of the tweets you see on your homepage.

Follow: when you follow an account, it simply means you are subscribing to Twitter activity of that account. This activity (such as Tweets and Likes) will show up on your feed.