As one who came of age professionally in the era of print and attended a high school that kept academic records on punch cards churned out by an off-site computer as big as a warehouse, I’m still amazed by the possibilities of the digital age. Two e-mail messages that arrived on the morning of January 30 reminded me of the increasing power of social media.
Debby Jagielow, director of alumni affairs for the medical school, wrote to say that our Winter 2012 cover story about Yale medical students who had launched Nyaya, a clinic in a remote corner of Nepal, was receiving many, many “likes” on Facebook.
The next message came from Pete Farley, managing editor of our sister publication, Medicine@Yale. On January 29, a New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, and Peter Singer, the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton, had tweeted the article by freelancer Stephanie Soucheray-Grell. “Great piece on Yale med students who started a new style of NGO, saving lives in one of the poorest regions of Nepal,” Singer tweeted.
That same day Facebook and Twitter drove 1,050 viewers to our site. Our website usually draws about 900 visitors per month.
Is there a lesson here? I like to think that this surge in Web traffic resulted from a series of fortunate events. We had a compelling story about a new approach to providing health care in the developing world—the story struck a chord with two well-known people who speak out on behalf of the marginalized and forgotten. The most gratifying news, however, came from Nyaya’s founders, who said that Yale Medicine has helped put their project in the public eye, and that in turn will help them to fulfill their mission of saving lives in Nepal.
It was also gratifying to learn in January that an article in our Spring 2011 issue, “The High Cost of a Medical Education,” by freelance writer Sonya Collins, had won an Honorable Mention award from the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Group on Institutional Advancement.