Social Media, The MCAT, and Medical School?

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram.  The list goes on. There are plenty of social networking sites out there that pre-medical students have accounts on and post content to on a daily, if not hourly basis.  While this is a fun, engaging way to maintain some semblance of a social life during the average student’s marathon long study session, there can be repercussions to what content might be being posted.

A great article was posted last week on American Medical News by Carolyne Krupa that highlights social media. The main message to remember is while applying for medical school and residency programs students need to take into account the type of material that they are posting on their social networking sites.  Schools and programs are taking increasing looks at profiles on sites in consideration of the applicant’s candidacy.

A 2009 survey of 600 medical school admissions officers and residency directors found that only 9% of respondents use social media websites to evaluate students as part of the admissions process. But 53% said applicants could jeopardize their chances of being accepted by posting unprofessional information online, according to the study (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23139411/).

Twenty-three percent of respondents said they thought admissions officials should use Internet searches, and 20% said they should use social networking sites to obtain additional information about applicants. Meanwhile, 58% said schools and residency programs were within their rights to search for an applicant’s name on social networking sites, but 19% believed doing so was a violation of privacy.

Check out more in the article, but a reminder of what to be thinking about in your own social media posting:It is important to note, highlighted by Dr. Schulman in the article, the study is three years old and the popularity of social networking websites has grown significantly in the three years since the survey was conducted.

  • Think of your account as the new resume.  Having people see it is not a bad thing. Your profile can show you as “human” with varying interests, hobbies, and of course friends. Just keep in mind to show things you would want everyone to see, not a picture of that embarrassing night you might care to forget.
  • Avoid controversial topics especially ethical and political.  In today’s world something that is posted out in cyberspace can and will be used against you. Try to take some middle ground on things and avoid becoming over critical one way or another. You never know who might be reading it.
  • Use social networking! Remember as a medical professional you want to be constantly networking and building pre-professional relationships that blossom into professional relationships later on. You could always reach out to current medical students at a school you are appluing to get to know more about the school. Studentdoctor.net can be a great resource!
  • Get information you need. As mentioned in our earlier blog post, social media accelerates transfer of information. Use that to get info on MCAT scores, interview topics, and the like.
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