Social Screening of Medical School Candidates


From Postgraduate Medical Journal in November 2012 comes Influence of social networking websites on medical school and residency selection process.  The investigators surveyed 600 U.S. medical school and residency admissions representatives regarding their use of social media profiles in the selection process.

If you can crawl over the paywall, you’ll find a few interesting stats:

  • 9% report the use of social network profiles to evaluate applicants.
  • 4% report having rejected an applicant based on social activity.
  • 19% feel that it’s a violation of privacy to search an applicants social network activity.

Perhaps what the study does best is showcase medicine’s entrenched cultural bias against social communication technology.  Online professionalism is discussed here only in the context of the mischief that students can create rather than as an opportunity or obligation.  Maybe we should recognize that many are doing good with these tools.

Here’s an idea: Rather than choosing students on their ability to master the standardized test, what about putting weight behind a lifestream or living e-portfolio of writing, curated material, recordings and dialog that tell the real story of what drives an applicant?  One application essay to understand an applicant?  How about two years worth of public essays?  Instead of avoiding an applicant’s public presence, the lifestream would represent a core determinant of candidacy for medical school.

Clearly we have a ways to go.

As long as we view publishing and communication technology from the perspective of risk rather than opportunity, the next generation of doctors will always be playing catch up.

Just for fun, check out the survey tool at the end of the publication which asks U.S. participants about their Friendster, Hi5, and Orkut use.

Reference:  Schulman CI, et al, Postgrad Med J 2012;0:1–5. doi:10.1136/postgradmedj-2012-131283