It was a cold, rainy day in February. I was watching TV and scrolling through Facebook, procrastinating my urgent need to decide which programs I should apply to for an away rotation. A photo of a friend from medical school appeared, but something was off. She had changed her name to some obscure gibberish phrase. As time passed, I began to see more and more colleagues alter their names on Facebook and Instagram. Some hid their social media accounts all together.
Hiding social media accounts either by altering account names or increasing privacy settings is a common trend for medical students that are in the process of applying for residency. Evidence shows that these actions are not entirely unwarranted as programs are using social media to screen applicants—especially in surgical subspecialties. Students hiding social media accounts presents a conundrum for program directors because they want to see your social media accounts to aid in the screening process of residency applicants. Programs have increased the utilization of social media as a recruitment tool for applicants (another article for emphasis). Many students have responded by creating professional social networking accounts to interact and engage with residency program social media recruitment campaigns.
Given the evolution of social media and its integration into our everyday lives, it seems like a far stretch that a medical student would not have a social media presence. In fact, it appears that some program directors may view it as a red flag if an applicant does not have a social media presence. Because of this, if it comes to either altering your account name versus escalating your privacy settings, I would recommend the latter. It don’t think a program could fault you for having private accounts, as many of them likely have high privacy settings for their own social networking interactions.
Regardless of your decision to alter your social media account names or to increase your privacy settings, let this serve as a good reminder that you are a soon to be physician and with that role comes certain professional responsibilities and expectations. Physicians are expected to uphold a positive public image in all areas of their life, including social media. I spent an afternoon with buddies where we watched college football and scrolled through our social media accounts untagging or deleting any photos/posts that might not represent the way we wanted to present ourselves in the residency application process or as a future physician. Take time to do the same by reviewing your social media presence and determining any changes you might need to make.
Are you making changes to your social media accounts this application cycle? Specific questions, comment below or contact us directly.