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What's on your Facebook page? Med schools may check

Applicants should be 'extremely careful' about online presence, researchers say

November 13, 2012

Some admissions officers for medical schools and residency programs use social networking websites like Facebook when evaluating applicants, according to a study in the Postgraduate Medical Journal.

For the study, researchers at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine surveyed 600 admissions officers for medical schools and residency programs.

About one in 10 surveyed admissions officers said they use social media sites to evaluate candidates, while one in five said they use general Internet searches to look up information on applicants.

However, only 3% to 4% of surveyed admissions officers said they had rejected an applicant because of social media postings.

The study also found that:

  • 58% of surveyed admissions officers said they do not believe online research on applicants constitutes an invasion of privacy;
  • 53% said they consider a candidate's online professionalism during the selection process; and
  • About 50% said they have their own personal social networking profile.

According to the study, one in 15 medical schools and residency programs maintainsa profile on a social media site.

Researchers say the study findings suggest that "[f]ormal guidelines for professional behavior on social networking websites might help applicants avoid unforeseen bias in the selection process."

"What people put online is really a part of their history," says lead study author Carl Schulman, who adds, "You have to be extremely careful on what you put out there" (Tran, "Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 11/8; Epley, "Social Madness," Memphis Business Journal, 11/8).

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