So I am aware that this is probably not the kind of content that a lot of you are here for. Many of you read my blog for the [ahem] swatches, foundation reviews, and skincare ingredient breakdowns. However, this has been a topic that has really been on my mind recently and has come up several times in conversations both with my peers and with some of my attending physicians that I am closer with.
For those of you that aren’t stuck inside of the bubble that is medical school and residency, this is the time of year where fourth year medical students submit their applications to residency programs and begin to go on interviews to find the place where they will be training for the next several years as physicians. This process can be quite competitive, and tends to be fairly anxiety-inducing for most of us involved.
Around this time of year, it isn’t uncommon to see fourth year medical students changing their names on Facebook, locking down all of their social media accounts on the most private settings, and essentially doing whatever they can to ensure that potential residency programs might not see something that could be considered or misconstrued out of context as unprofessional. Considering how high stakes the residency match is, this is a completely reasonable set of actions to take. The culture of the medical profession tends to lean in the direction of “old school” to put it colloquially– so conservatism is typically a safe bet.
I’m not creating this post to criticize that culture of privacy…but I would like to present an alternative option. Hear me out.
If you were to Google any physician’s name right now, I guarantee that on the first page of results– typically within the first five sites listed– is one of the big patient review sites. Here, technically anyone can place a review of that physician and say almost anything that they want. Other than filing a lawsuit for defamation, there is typically very little that one can do to remove those posts. As a whole, our society is relying increasingly on the internet and reviews for our decision making, so these can be particularly brutal to a physician’s reputation.
With the vast majority of people in the United States connected to the internet, and tech adoption (including social media use) climbing among older adults— this is no longer just a “milennial thing.” When you have a public social media presence and/or an active public website, you get to control the content that you are putting out there. You can expand upon your professional interests, experiences, and passions in the context of a “real” person. You have this incredible opportunity to take ownership of your own online presence and maybe even affect other’s perception of you positively.
So how does this all relate to residency applications– or specifically MY residency application? Well, I’ve been quiet on my blog and my Instagram page because I felt torn on how to handle this whole social media issue. I felt (and do still feel) a lot of pressure to follow the “norm” and just go into virtual hiding for the next six months.
Additionally, I sometimes worry that the focus of my blog will impart the impression that I am vain and unintelligent to those who may read it– especially due to preexisting stereotypes of women in medicine. In those moments of insecurity, I remind myself that my academic successes and personal statement clearly show otherwise. One of the ways that I am choosing to fight that stigma is to show that medicine and an interest in makeup and skincare certainly don’t need to be mutually exclusive.
So ultimately I reviewed the content that I’ve created and decided that I would be happy for any residency program to see what I have built. On this website, I am proud that I have worked on a series that combines science and skincare products in a way that is accessible to non-medical folks. On my Instagram, I have many posts that I feel really characterize my love for medicine. On both platforms, I have found a balance of comfort and professionalism where I have never violated my own personal moral code, or any medical code of ethics. In addition to all of that, blogging has provided me with an incredibly supportive community as well as a hobby that provides a sense of balance– something that is so important in a profession plagued by burnout.
There are so many nuances to this issue and I would love to discuss them more on my Instagram or down in the comments. I would like to start things off with two questions:
1) For my non-medical friends, how would you feel if someone with a public social media presence walked into the room when you made an appointment to see a physician (be it a medical student, nurse, or the physician themself)?
2) For my medical peers, what is your take on the issue?