Otolaryngology residency programs are getting into the Instagram game.

Public Health

Why Instagram is a New Force For Medical Residency Matching

“In one pandemic year, otolaryngology residency programs made the leap to social media as a technology that facilitates easy dissemination and publication of information. Text and pictures become profound messages to an audience of followers.”

For years there has been a rite of passage for otolaryngologists and other medical students that matches them with a residency program.

Now there’s Instagram to help.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, residency programs turned to social media to share important information through pictures and posts. Nearly 75 percent of programs were participating at the beginning of 2021, according to ENTtoday.

Instagram has given academic otolaryngologists the chance to test the waters of the social media world and connect with future doctors in their field — many of whom already use Instagram to stay in touch with friends and follow the lives of the rich and famous. It also gives aspiring residents a look at their potential home through candid pictures and authentic personal interactions.

However, as useful as Instagram can be, it has its limitations. For instance, there’s the propensity, as with all social media, to show only good things. Also, candidates should use Instagram as a supplement rather than assuming that every bit of important information they need to know will be communicated there, Dr. Jeffrey Yu, Dr. Nick Curran, and Dr. John Wilson write in ENTtoday.

A common theme on otolaryngology residency accounts, like those of other specialties, has been to document the resiliency of faculty, residents, and staff as they have navigated the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In one pandemic year, otolaryngology residency programs made the leap to social media as a technology that facilitates easy dissemination and publication of information,” the authors write. “Text and pictures become profound messages to an audience of followers.”

Otolaryngologists also have gotten creative with residency recruitment by using social media in other ways.

Many otolaryngology departments deal with more applicants than there are residency positions available, so they have adopted a system by which residents can make their own top five list to get more interviews from the programs that most interest them.

The preferential signaling process enables residency applicants to name up to five programs of interest and has resulted in “significantly more interview offers from programs in which they were most interested,” according to another ENTtoday post.

ENT physicians, in general, are increasingly using social media to interact with their own patients through TikTok videos, Facebook and Twitter.

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