Trends on SIR Connect
By Sudhen B. Desai, MD Summer 2017
This column summarizes patient cases posted to SIR Connect (SIR’s popular online member community), the responses from other SIR members and how that feedback helped the original poster. To see how SIR’s online community can help you, visit SIR Connect at connect.sirweb.org.
As the academic year closed (meaningless to some, a stake in the heart of others as July 1 approached), we wanted to devote some time to reflect on the SIR Connect Open Forum. In the 2 years since its launch, SIR’s 7,000+ members have contributed to 900+ posts on the forum, with more posted every day.
The issues discussed are far reaching, including such topics as:
- Transarterial hepatic therapies
- Lung biopsy
- IR Residency, medical students in IR
- Private practice IR
- Medication shortages
- Show and tell
- Insurance and medicolegal questions
- DVT thrombolysis
- Establishing IR clinical practices
Posts have led to highly engaged and (mostly) civil discussion, firmly establishing members of SIR as passionate in their beliefs, opinionated and unafraid to tackle the difficult questions head on. Some such discussion threads particularly caught my attention:
- Branding/naming IRs—Is there a better way to get our skills recognized by our clinical peers and our patients?
- Should IRs fully dissociate from DR practices?
- Is there a way to approach the issue of exclusive hospital contracts?
The opinions shared illustrate the diversity of practitioners within our society and the benefits of an open forum for discussion.
Also striking is the number of participants in the forum. More than 5,200 responses to the 900+ posts have been submitted (an average of 5.8 responses per post). The most popular discussion threads include catheterization techniques for pulmonary thrombolysis, ACLS for hospital based IRs, UAE management, CTA for LGIB, and others. Some of these discussion threads have almost 50 replies by SIR members!
It is obvious that each of our work environments is unique, yet strangely similar to others. Many people have reached out to ask questions about issues involving their local practice environment, drawing on the collective experience of other IRs from around the world. By and large, these requests were met with interest, empathy and suggested solutions.
While the Open Forum has played host to many instantly recognizable names and faces in the IR community, it has also given a voice to those who perhaps had not previously felt they had an appropriate venue appropriate for their questions and views. We reached out to some of these prolific, active SIR Connectors to review their experiences with the Open Forum and how it’s impacted them.
What about the site makes it worth your time and energy to post and reply to others’ posts?
“The practice of IR is varied and nuanced and SIR Connect presents a forum to learn from one another alternative ways of tackling problems and affirm for yourself the authenticity of your methods. You are also consoled in knowing that you’re not alone in the daily battles we each fight in our practice settings to keep our flag aloft.”—Kenneth Ekechukwu, MD, MPH, FACP
Do you see SIR Connect as a viable means to convey clinical assistance? Do you have concerns with the manner in which information is being conveyed? If so, what would you change to make it better for the IR community?
The threads pertaining to the current practice and future direction of IR are the most interesting for me. While I am an IR/DR, I actually agree with most of the independent IR viewpoints and tend to play the devil's advocate to provoke thought and get all the comments out."—David D. Lawrence Jr., MD
What threads seem to stick with you or have had the most lasting impact on you?
“I enjoy all of them. Since I’ve signed up for the website I’ve been learning about every aspect of IR every day, from procedures to advocacy to private practice issues. If I had to choose one particular thread I would say the ones that present cases. I’m still early in my career (3 years out of fellowship in July) and I absorb everything that is mentioned on those posts.”—Juan M. Gimenez, MD
We also asked Gerard O'Sullivan, MD, FSIR, an IR based in Galway, Ireland, how the use of SIR Connect has impacted his daily practice, since he is relatively distant from most other SIR members. He said, “I have always been a huge SIR fan and would have taken a much more active role had I stayed in the United States. Some questions on SIR Connect have literally no bearing on my professional life, but others are bang on and directly related to what I do. So they have changed the way I practice—subtle things, usually. I would encourage more young members to ask questions—and to be aware that there are no stupid questions.”
As we move forward, we hope that SIR Connect continues to engage a broad and engaged portion of the membership. The sharing of experience and opinion allows rapid outreach but hopefully this information is also vetted through the scientific literature, or soon becomes a part of it. The treasure trove of personal experience has aided many of your peers, like Drs. Ekechukwu, Lawrence, Gimenez and O’Sullivan and it is the goal of SIR to continue ensuring this interchange of experience and science will benefit all members alike.
Not certain what constitutes appropriate behavior on an online forum like SIR Connect? Make sure you read the SIR Connect code of conduct at bit.ly/2sgVkvG.