90% of fourth-year medical students use Residency Navigator to learn more about the programs in which they're interested. Read real reviews, see alum, and find out what life is like from the people who actually went there.
Reflecting on our residency application process, the pre-interview lunch and dinner were where many assessments of proper fit occurred. Do the residents interact well together? Is the conversation free-flowing or stagnant? How do they interact with the faculty? All of these small assessments are aggregated to help applicants form a more complete picture of a program. Beyond the program’s welcome PowerPoint and the website, these small glimpses into the culture of a program provide invaluable information to applicants as they begin to develop a rank list. However, all these assessments are based on one important factor: being there in person. With the Coalition for Physician Accountability’s March 11th report recommending virtual interviews during the pandemic and limitations on away rotations, the 2021 residency application process is likely to look very different from past years. Applicants will no longer have the opportunity to assess the subtleties of a program that can only be observed while visiting. Where might applicants turn to gather this additional information about programs? Social media.
Just as program directors can check out an applicant's social media account, applicants can also glean a great deal of information from a program’s accounts. As the 2021 residency application and interview cycle process continues to evolve and adapt to COVID-19, we hope that creating a professional social media presence can help applicants explore their field of interest and gain additional information about residency programs.
Take a look at what topics your residencies of interest are posting about, who are they highlighting, and how do they demonstrate their values. Social media will never replace the value of in-person impressions; however, during this pandemic, it may be the best alternative to the famed faculty-free moments highly valued by applicants in their ranking process. We have created a list of tips to help you get started on your professional Twitter account so that you can make informed decisions when creating your rank list. These tips can also be helpful if you are an existing Twitter user to help optimize your account.
- Start with a simple handle. The easiest way to create a handle is by simply using your name. You want your handle to be easy to search for and easy to recognize. Try to avoid using too many numbers. For example, @SarahASantiago is much more clean and professional than @SarahSantiago0023279.
- Create a clear bio. You want your bio to align with your interests and to show your personality. This is one of the first things that people read when they stumble upon your profile. Think of this as your pitch. It’s a quick way to show who you are, what you do, and why people should follow you. Include your medical school (link it using @medicalschool) and use hashtags for your interests. Example: “PGY1 at @UMichOBGYN_Res | @LoyolaHealth 2020 | WashU 2015 | Miniature Painter | She/Her | #MIGS #LGBTQadvocacy #transhealth | Opinions are my own” (160 character count limit).
- Use a professional photo. Use a professional headshot. This will help you appear more reputable to followers. Ideally, you want to use the same photo that you used for your ERAS application so that programs can easily recognize you.
- Follow the right people and see who they follow. Check out who your mentors follow. Learn more about your specialty of interest by following national committees, journals (i.e., ACOG, AMA, NEJM), physicians, and residents in your field of interest. Make sure to represent your medical school and support your future colleagues by following other medical students. Finally, gain an inside look as residency programs you’re interested in by exploring their profiles.
- Tweet it out. Post things you’re passionate about, share podcasts or articles you find interesting, show support to colleagues, and be wary of overly political posts. You want to avoid controversial topics. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable saying during an interview! Remember that your profile is public, and you never know who is reading it. Some program directors even base their rank list off of what they find on an applicant’s social media accounts for better or for worse. The beauty of Twitter is that you can express yourself, find others who share similar thoughts, and have a discussion about it. However, it is your responsibility to take ownership of your own opinions. Make sure to write a disclaimer in your bio that your opinions, tweets, and views are your own, and not affiliated to your institution. There are many ways to do this, but “opinions are my own” should suffice.
- Utilize Twitter threads. Search hashtags like #medtwitter #medstudenttwitter #obgyntwitter to read up on what people are posting and discussing. This is a great way to stay up to date on information pertinent to you and your interests. You can get a feel of what others are posting before you post. A great way to start posting is by introducing yourself. Example: “Hi #medstudenttwitter, my name is (fill in the blank), an MS3 at (your medical school). I am new to Twitter and look forward to connecting with those in (field of interest). Any suggestions are welcome. My interests include #blank #blank and #blank.”
- Start or join a conversation Twitter is a great way to share your opinions, provide advice, and...
- Create a persona you want to have fun with this too — be yourself!
Elizabeth Southworth is an incoming OBGYN Resident at the University of Michigan and current Vice Chair of the AMA Medical Student Section Committee on Medical Education. She is passionate about women’s health, medical education, and translational research. Follower her on Twitter @Lizzysouth26 and Instagram @lsouth26
Sarah Santiago is an incoming OBGYN Resident at the University of Michigan. She is passionate about transhealth, LGBTQ health advocacy, and medical education. Follow her on Twitter @SarahASantiago and Instagram @SarahSantiago92.
Illustration by Jennifer Bogartz