What Medical Students Should Know about Social Media

June 24, 2014


Nothing has revolutionized communication over the past few decades like social media. Not only has it changed the way friends meet and stay in touch, it’s also changed the way prestigious schools choose students and the way hospitals and other medical services providers choose new hires. So, it’s important that both prospective and current medical students understand what’s at stake each time they post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media sites.

Consider the statistics affecting prospective students applying for acceptance to prestigious medical schools. In deciding whether to accept particular applicants:

  • 32 percent of medical school admissions departments report they’ve Googled an applicant to learn more about them; 
  • 22 percent say they have visited an applicant’s social networking site; 
  • 42% say they found something that negatively impacted a student’s chances of being accepted.

But the potential online scrutiny doesn’t stop with your medical school acceptance letter. Your web presence can follow you into your internship and post-graduate job searches too. According to a recent survey of more than 1,000 job recruiters:

  • 92 percent of respondents use social media when sourcing job talent;
  • 93 percent of respondents use LinkedIn;
  • 66 percent use Facebook;
  • And 54 percent use Twitter in their search for qualified candidates.

And 40 percent of medical hiring professionals say they browse the social media profiles of candidates applying for jobs as physicians, nurses and other healthcare workers.

To protect your online reputation and assure that your social media presence doesn’t sink your chances of getting accepted to the medical school of your choice or landing a great position after graduation, WOLFPACC offers these tips:

  • If you have a social media account, use it. If your profile hasn’t been updated in months, it may seem suspicious; 
  • That said, watch the “TMI” (too much information) factor. Avoid posting details of your latest family or relationship drama or a dozen photos of yourself, alcoholic beverage in hand, partying it up with friends. You won’t be taken seriously; 
  • Avoid highly-charged political or religious issues. You never know what parties, faiths or opinions are held by those with the power to decide your educational and professional future; 
  • Don’t cuss. It’s simply unprofessional;
  • Watch the online groups you join and the hashtags you post. Seeing “Things I Hate About my Professor” among your list of online groups, or hashtags like #myjobsucks in your posts and comments will certainly send a negative message; 
  • Mind the details. If you maintain profiles on multiple social media sites or professional online forums, be consistent with information like job titles and durations. And double check spelling, grammar and sentence structure.

Remember that online reputations tend to last. That momentary lapse of judgment at the keyboard can spread quickly and it’s nearly impossible to erase all traces. Begin now to protect your chances of making the future you’re envisioning a reality.