Online Behavior in Medical School Admissions


Considering the impact of the Internet and social networking sites like Facebook on the admissions process has quickly become a pretty tired story. Yes, students should take care to manage their online presence, but no, admissions officers are unlikely to search every nook and cranny of the Web to “bust” applicants. As it relates to MBA and law school admissions, there’s not much to discuss in this area.

However, that may not necessarily be the case with medical school. CNN recently ran an article about a study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association that explored online behavior of medical students and presented some very interesting conclusions. In short, the stakes are higher for med students than they are for their business school or law school counterparts, which may have ramifications on the admissions process.

According to the article, there were six medical schools that reported a violation of patient privacy by one of its students, often in the form of detailed blog posts or Facebook updates. According to CNN, most of the inappropriate student conduct reported in the survey was “related to the student’s own behavior, including drunken, drug-related, or sexually suggestive images or comments, as well as the use of profanity or discriminatory language.” However, that handful of privacy violations is a huge concern, especially considering that some of the violations were reported by the patients, rather than the students.

Obviously, this is going to be a fairly major issue within the medical school community, and you can expect more programs to adopt official policies about the social networking sites. However, a potentially overlooked consideration is how this will impact the admissions process. At the very least, this is a reminder of just how important character and ethics are in a candidate, as the best way to prevent some of these actions is to avoid the types of people who are likely to commit them. Beyond that though, what might we see? All of the old arguments about Facebook suddenly become relevant, because it is more than just a window into a candidate’s life, it is a preview of how they will live and behave on the Internet once they become med students.

It is certainly something to watch and at the very least, medical school applicants will want to be more cognizant of their online behavior than their law and business school counterparts.

For more advice on medical school admissions, call us at 800-925-7737 and talk to one of our admissions experts.

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