The Advent of Professional Instagram Accounts

With the COVID-19 pandemic ushering in a new era of virtual residency applications and away rotation experiences, social media has developed as a popular medium for programs to share information with applicants.  Many programs have been taking to Instagram and Twitter as the primary mediums for these communications.  Due to fears of intermixing professional and personal social networking, many students already elect to hide their personal Instagram accounts.  Faced with the need of closely following residency program social media accounts and viewing features such as Instagram stories or Instagram live sessions, there has been a surge in applicant ‘professional’ Instagram accounts.  This has generated buzz across the infamous Google Excel sheets for applicants to specific specialties,  The COVID-19 situation has helped accelerate the growth of social media recruitment of medical students for residency positions.  It is likely here to stay given the numerous other educational and networking benefits that social media provides.

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If you decide to  create a ‘professional’ Instagram account for the purposes of applying to residency, here are a few things to consider.  From the advice of the program director of the Mount Sinai plastic surgery residency, utilize social media to feature you as a person and tell the story that you want program directors hear. The first impression program directors could have of you may be from how you portray yourself on social media.  When making an account, be sure to remember your position.  You are an applicant to plastic surgery, orthopedic surgery, pediatrics, etc. You are not a plastic surgeon, orthopedist, or pediatrician yet, so be sure not to give off the impression that you are.  I have personal reservations with professional Instagram accounts for medical students or interns because they just seem to come off as arrogant.  For example, it just seems out of place for me to show up in two weeks to my first day of intern year not knowing how to start a drip of normal saline but simultaneously posting pictures of being a #PlasticSurgeon.  I say all of that not to discourage you from making a professional social media account, but rather to warn you to be careful when constructing your account.  Consider how it will appear to program directors or residents that may be reviewing it.  Here are some other thoughts to consider from the AAMC and the AMSA.

Don’t sleep on Twitter!  #MedTwitter and #MedStudentTwitter are a vibrant growing community in the Twitter-verse.  They are great networking tools and many residency programs are sharing information on Twitter as well. 

Do you plan on creating a professional Instagram account during your application cycle? Why or why not?  Comment below to share your thoughts. 

Back to more application resources.

Carter J. Boyd, MD, MBA
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