Does social media influence medical school admissions? Do admissions officers look through your profiles to uncover reasons to not accept you? What are some ways that you can ensure you are not rejected simply because of your social network site?

Social media has pervaded our culture. Since so much of our personal information is now posted online via Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc, personal information has now become readily available through just one Google search. In 2012, CareerBuilder.com conducted a survey that asked 2,303 managers and human resource professionals if and how they incorporate social media into their hiring process. The results show that 37% of companies use social networking sites to research job candidates. The survey also displayed what hiring managers are looking for on these social media sites. 65% of the companies that incorporate social media are looking to see whether the candidate presents himself/herself professional manner while at least 12% of companies are looking for reasons to not hiring a certain candidate. Social media often hurts candidates if they have posted inappropriate pictures (49%), have indications of drug or alcohol abuse (45%), displayed poor communication skills (35%), bad mouthed a previous employer (33%), made discriminatory comments (28%) or lied about qualifications (22%).

What does all this mean for a potential medical school applicant? Do medical school admissions officers also use social media to research and screen applicants?

According to a 2009 survey that was published November 8, 2012, 53/600 (9%) of officers who review medical school and/or residency program applications stated that they routinely use social media websites in the admissions process. 24/600 (4%) shared that they rejected an applicant based on social activity. In addition, 315/600 (53%) of officers felt that unprofessional information on an applicant’s social network profile could compromise his or her admissions into medical school or residency.

These results show that for now, it is relatively uncommon for schools or programs to routinely use social media directly in the admissions process. Nevertheless, it also indicates that social media can often play an indirect role in selection, especially as social media becomes even more common. And even if 9% use social media directly in the admissions process, that should still be enough for a potential applicant to think twice before posting anything inappropriate on his or her Facebook especially if 4% of officers rejected an applicant based on social activity.

So what are some ways to ensure that social media doesn’t hurt your chances at a medical school acceptance?

Google your name with any specific association

If your name is John Smith and you attend Stanford University, you should try Googling (John Smith Stanford University) and see what pops up. Research to see if you can find anything about yourself online (you probably will be able to). If there is anything on there that could turn admissions officers off, request to take it down or, if it is your own social media site, take it down yourself.

Don’t do anything that shows poor judgment and even if you do, don’t let it go online

Avoid posting pictures of yourself at parties, drinking with friends and acting crazy. Substance abuse is probably one of the biggest things to watch out for. Do not post any racist or discriminatory comments. Simply be careful about what you say, do, or post. And delete anything that might be potentially harmful or misunderstood

Make your social network profile private

Change your settings so only friends can see your information. Set up your profile so that you have to approve tags or check-ins. Always err on the side of caution.

As it gets increasingly difficult to get accepted into medical schools, there is no reason to put yourself at an unnecessary disadvantage. Although you do not need to be a prude, make sure you be careful about what you post online. You never know who is going to read it.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ProspectiveDoctor. Follow ProspectiveDoctor on Twitter @ProspectiveDr

 

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Edward Chang

Edward Chang is the Co-founder and Director of Operations of ProspectiveDoctor.com. He graduated from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and is currently a urology resident at the University of Washington. He also attended UCLA as an undergraduate, graduating with a major in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology. If you are interested in contributing to ProspectiveDoctor.com, please contact him at edwardchang@prospectivedoctor.com. Follow him on Twitter @EdwardChangMD and Prospective Doctor @ProspectiveDr.

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