I'm Not a Doctor

A second opinion on the challenges and opportunities facing today's physicians.

Old people medicine is just so #geriatrics

There was excitement in some circles when it was announced that the American Geriatrics Society was given a permanent seat on the Medicare payment advisory panel known as the RUC. But it also opened up the potential for unpleasant interaction between older folks learning how to use social media to disseminate news and younger generations using it to transmit the transient thoughts that randomly pop in their heads.

The RUC, also known as the American Medical Association's Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee, announced last week that it was adding two more seats: one permanent for the AGS and a rotating seat for “an actively practicing primary-care physician representative.”

The news of the rotating seat didn't capture much attention (I, for one, was expecting more spin). But, for the other, there was a “Hey, this is great” AGS news release posted and some congratulatory notes tweeted that I didn't have time to read until the next day, which I then looked for using Twitter's hashtag methodology. I did some #geriatrics and #gerontology searches and learned that attaching those terms to a snide remark has become this generation's equivalent of the '60s' “Don't trust anyone over 30.”

For example, some guy named Nate—whose parents must be very proud of him (#sarcasm)—tweeted this after Sunday's big game: “Tom Coughlin wins a Super Bowl and Tony LaRussa wins the World Series. I guess it's just not my year #geriatrics.” Several tweets about the half-time show featured the #geriatrics tag, such as this one: “And, then... Just 15 minutes after leaving the field, Madonna returns to cryogenic suspension. #SuperBowl #LipSynch #Geriatrics.”

The counterpart to #geriatrics seems to be #gerontology, and “Jillian” better hope her parents and instructor aren't reading her tweets like this one: “Most boring class ever? #gerontology worst part. No cell phone service. Played mash with Rachel the entire time”

But not all students are so negative toward senior citizens. There are also those like Kimberly who used Twitter to vow Scarlett O'Hara-style “No matter what happens, I know I've found my calling. Mark my words—I will always want to work in #geriatrics..”

Then there's Emilie who appeared to be baring her inner turmoil in tweets like this from Jan. 30: “I don't know if I can be a nurse... #geriatrics”

Fortunately, Emilie has apparently found her calling, according to this Feb. 2 post: “I think I just found my direction for nursing. Labour and delivery, or work with young children and moms. Love this!!”

So I've decided to become one of Emilie's Twitter followers. Not because she exposes her inner thoughts, which can be too much information and, frankly, none of my business, but because of observations such as these, the likes of which I haven't seen anywhere else: “Only in a nursing class will you watch a DVD of Bill Cosby discussing natural child birth” and “Costco wasn't around before Christ... So people ate placenta!" #nursinglectures”

Follow Andis Robeznieks on Twitter: @MHARobeznieks.


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