While work can seem something of a pageant with doctors of various specialties and assorted training levels, nursing staff, secretarial staff, management and maintenance, sometimes an escape to a different collection of peers adds to the satisfaction. A number of online services have created communities of physicians to which I subscribe to two. Sermo has become a daily destination, a mosaic of specialty mavens, people passionate about their politics even when at the fringes of morality, downtrodden types tilting at the insurance company or government windmills, and handful of bon vivants in a relentless quest for their finest personal indulgence. My community in cyberspace. I have created my own niche there, a hormone maven, a prototypical Jewish voter and devotee of Jewish culture and practice. I'm very much part of the group, a group that I really do not have any place else. And while the Pirke Avot aphorisms of Hillel conclude with Al Tifrosh Min Ha-Tzibur or Do Not Separate Yourself from the Community, the attachment sometimes crosses the line between sincere fondness and less healthy addiction.
So it is, I made a decision to take my leave for two weeks, starting yesterday. The first day was not easy, as I had posted a comment on gun control to which colleagues who derive pleasure from shooting a mallard out of the sky took exception. There are nine more comments that I have not read and probably will not read, at least until my return. My Google Chrome home page includes instant links to Sermo, Comcast, Facebook, furrydoc, and Medscape. Work disallows entry to Facebook leaving me with checking my personal e-mail as the surrogate for not accessing Sermo during the periodic slack times on not so slack times when I feel I might have something important to contribute. I've never timed how much time I spend there. Some of it undoubtedly classifies as legitimate work. When I host residents or medical students on elective, I invariably use some of the other people's posts on endocrine topics for teaching. My own contributions answering other people's endocrine queries or bantering different medical thoughts with some very learned colleagues of different perspective adds to my own skill so that would justify paying me for the interactive time as well. And I've asked guidance on my own cases that seem off the beaten path. I've never neglected my own professional tasks to make political or cultural statements in cyberspace, though perhaps I could have been doing some billing or record keeping or keeping my desk more tidy during those slack moments which never amount to more than ten or fifteen minutes at a time, unless using the service for real professional activity..
So Day 1, resist temptation to click the icon. Almost there. Next step, do something else with that time. Since they are all nearly all brief moments of time, a form of ADHD heaven perhaps, what else might I do with ten minutes instead. My really big projects, it turns out, generally require much larger concentrations than I give to Sermo. But there are charts that can be signed, maybe some hospital bills that can be generated, a more orderly desktop created and maintained. As satisfying as connecting to my professional colleagues has been, there is an opportunity cost, one that is small but real. It will be interesting to reflect back in two weeks and see what I actually did instead.