Schweitzer J, Hannan A, Coren J. The Role of Social Networking Web Sites in Influencing Residency Decisions. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2012;112(10):673–679. doi: 10.7556/jaoa.2012.112.10.673.
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Context: Social networking Web sites such as Facebook have grown rapidly in popularity. It is unknown how such sites affect the ways in which medical trainees investigate and interact with graduate medical education (GME) programs.
Objective: To evaluate the use of social networking Web sites as a means for osteopathic medical students, interns, residents, and fellows to interact with GME programs and report the degree to which that interaction impacts a medical trainee's choice of GME program.
Methods: An anonymous, 10-item electronic survey on social networking Web sites was e-mailed to osteopathic medical student, intern, resident, and fellow members of the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians. The weighted least squares test and the Fisher exact test were used for data analysis.
Results: A total of 9606 surveys were distributed, and 992 (10%) were completed. Nine hundred twenty-eight (93%) of the respondents used social networking Web sites, with the most popular services being Facebook (891 [90%]; P=.03), the Student Doctor Network (278 [28%]), and LinkedIn (89 [9%]; P=.03). Three hundred fifty-three respondents (36%; P=.52) were connected with a professional organization and 673 (68%; P=.73) used social networking Web sites for job searching related to GME programs or postresidency employment. Within the population of 497 third-, fourth-, and fifth-year osteopathic medical students, 136 (27%) reported gleaning information about programs through social networking Web sites (P=.01). Within the total population, 100 of 992 (10%) reported that this information influenced their decisions (P=.07). Of note, 144 (14%) of the total 992 respondents reported that the programs they applied to did not have any presence on social networking Web sites (P=.05).
Conclusion: Our results indicate that social networking Web sites have a present and growing influence on how osteopathic medical students, interns, residents, and fellows learn about and select a GME program.
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