Ignite Magazine | Spring 2021

Page 13



Tapping into the power of social media, Christina Girgis, M.D. (’05), an associate professor of psychiatry at Loyola University in Chicago, connects psychiatrists across the country. More than 5,000 members belong to the Women’s Psychiatry Group that she founded on Facebook, and her Psychiatry Network group has 12,000 members. Dr. Girgis also established a psychiatry journal club on Facebook Live that offers Continuing Medical Education credit. Dr. Girgis talks here about the groups and the non-clinical skills she has developed to lead her peers.


n 2015 I was on maternity leave at home. I had lost the baby at the very end of the pregnancy, which was terrible. I was at home on social media a lot, biding my time, and I felt isolated. I thought, there must be a group of psychiatrists on Facebook, but I couldn’t find anything, so I started the Women’s Psychiatry Group. I added 50-75 people I knew or knew of, either from school or from the Chicago area, where I live. People added their friends and colleagues, and now we have over 5,000 members — all women psychiatrists. Initially, the purpose was to be a support group for women’s issues. We also have case discussions or bounce ideas off of each other, and we offer professional opinions related to our careers, which is a nice aspect of the group. In 2016, a lot of group members were saying, “Can I add my husband, who is also a psychiatrist?” or “I have residents in my program who would be really excited to join,” so I thought, why not start a group for all psychiatrists — residents, residents, men, women — that’s less a personal support group and more a professional network. Psychiatry Network snowballed to about 12,000 members. [The American Psychiatric Association has 38,000 members.]

LEADING BY LISTENING It’s easy to see what people’s needs are, because they’re constantly talking about them. For example, a couple of years ago, the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology changed its process for 10-year board certification. You used to take an exam every 10 years, but in 2019 the board offered a pilot program that has since become permanent, in which psychiatrists would read a number of journal articles and then answer questions about them. If you passed, then you could continue to be certified. Although many felt it was convenient to do the work at your own pace, and were happy not to have to take

Illustration: Branden Vondrak

another standardized exam, others found the process to be anxiety-provoking and felt it would be a more worthwhile venture with CME attached. I heard my peers saying, “Give me CME!” I love finding a need and filling it, and so, I started a journal club on Facebook Live with CME available. As far as I know, this is the first series like it that anyone in medicine has created. Twice a week, different psychiatrists would present an article on Facebook Live video. People could watch live and ask questions, then there was a discussion. Afterward, they would go to this link that I had set up and answer a couple of questions and they could get CME credit for having watched the video. I’ve just uploaded all the videos to the Psychiatry Network YouTube channel. Even if you’re not in the Facebook Live group, you can still watch the videos and get the education there. I found a sponsor for the CME; it’s not cheap to set up. Even before the journal club idea, I Facebook messaged several educational companies. One of them responded and has since been a sponsor. At the last conference we had a room with four or five companies with tables. And in 2018 I set up a women's psychiatry conference which I think was the first of its kind in the U.S.

LAUNCHING INTO BUSINESS I don’t know if most medical schools prepare you for business or entrepreneurship. It’s a shame, because doctors have so many great ideas, and when we talk about things like burnout, now one of the recommendations is that if you want to prevent it, spend 20% of your time on something you love. So, what does that mean? That could be within clinical medicine or outside of clinical medicine as well. Physicians out there are teaching other physicians about managing their finances or how to invest their money in real estate or doing some type of leadership coaching. There are so many different things that people can get into if they want to, but physicians can go into them blindly sometimes. Personally, I’ve had to learn everything as I went. For example, I didn’t have any experience with setting up an LLC. I wondered: At what point in the progression of my business should I do it? How can I avoid putting my home address on there for privacy purposes? No one teaches you those things!