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Social Network Profile May Harm Medical Applicants

Minority of med schools, residency programs use social networking Web sites in selection process

MONDAY, Nov. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Social networking profiles may harm an applicant's chances of admission to medical school or a residency program, according to a study published online Nov. 8 in the Postgraduate Medical Journal.

Carl I. Schulman, M.D., M.S.P.H., from the University of Miami, and colleagues surveyed 600 U.S. medical school admissions officers and residency program directors accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education to assess familiarity with, usage of, and attitudes toward social networking Web sites.

The researchers found that 15 percent of medical schools or programs maintained profiles on social networking Web sites. The majority (64 percent) of respondents reported being familiar with searching individual profiles on social networking sites. More than half of respondents felt that unprofessional information on applicants' social networking sites could compromise their admission into medical school or residency (53 percent), although only a minority of medical schools and residency programs routinely use social networking sites in the selection process (9 percent).

"Social networking sites will inevitably affect future selection of doctors and residents. Criteria for professional behavior and use of social networking sites are lacking at this time," the authors write. "Formal guidelines for professional behavior on social networking sites may help applicants avoid unforeseen bias in the selection process."

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