Social networking and professionalism in otolaryngology residency applicants

Laryngoscope. 2012 Jul;122(7):1493-6. doi: 10.1002/lary.23388. Epub 2012 Jun 11.


Objectives/hypothesis: To assess compliance with Accreditation Council for Graduation Medical Education standards of professionalism among otolaryngology residency applicants with publicly searchable Facebook profiles.

Study design: Case series.

Methods: Applicants to an otolaryngology residency program were searched on the Facebook website. Multiple matches were narrowed by available information until the correct individual was identified. Searches were performed in a manner that would not allow access to restricted information, thus showing only what would be accessible publicly. Four reviewers evaluated all profiles and generated a professionalism score. Scores were collated with National Resident Matching Program data and match results to identify significant associations.

Results: Of the 234 applicants to our institution, 119 had Facebook profiles. Of these, 85 profiles contained information beyond simple demographics. Eleven percent of applicant profiles contained pictures or text that at least one reviewer felt could be perceived as unprofessional. There were six profiles with content considered to be concerning and one profile that contained clear violations of professional boundaries. Professionalism score did not correlate with whether the applicant matched, was interviewed, or received a place on the rank list. Age, gender, marital status, and Step 1 score did not correlate with a lower professionalism score. Our series included 61% of all otolaryngology applicants.

Conclusions: Publicly available Facebook profiles with questionable content existed for 11% of otolaryngology applicants in this series. This finding did not affect applicants' match outcomes, nor was it predicted by any data available on the applicants' applications.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / ethics*
  • Job Application
  • Male
  • Otolaryngology / education*
  • Otolaryngology / ethics*
  • Social Networking*