In this article a PGY2 Infectious Diseases Pharmacy Resident discusses social media as a resource for pharmacy residency recruitment, providing insights for both programs and candidates.
Authored by: Hunter O. Rondeau, Pharm.D
Article Posted 28 October 2022
Virtual recruitment for post-graduate residency programs continues to find its place, especially now with the upcoming in-person Midyear after two years of an “online-only” environment. Since the news of virtual Midyear in 2020, many residency programs have created social media accounts, most often on the platform Twitter. With the advent of Free Open Access Meducation or FOAMed, many healthcare professionals have created or converted their social media accounts to participate. What started with critical care and emergency medicine has exploded to other specialities, and notably, infectious diseases.
So why talk about social media? As mentioned above, a LOT more healthcare professions have entered the social media space in the last few years. Networking, journal clubs, discussing the latest studies and guidelines are a few of the actions both new and seasoned practitioners participate within the online space. The abrupt shift to a virtual environment prompted many practitioners and students to join the FOAMed movement.
With the many in-person conferences canceled in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, both prospective candidates and recruiting programs were in a predicament – was residency recruitment going to be limited to email exchanges and video calls? Some programs saw this shift and capitalized on this opportunity by creating social media accounts for their residency programs. A question many are asking with the slow reintroduction of in-person conferences, “To what extent will residency recruitment remain virtual?”. Will all of those department social media accounts lay idle this match season? The results of the 2022 match developed a few questions:
- How will programs react to the declining number of graduating pharmacists and enrollment of pharmacy students?
- How will residency programs react to the simultaneous drop in total applicants and rise in participating programs in the match?
- What is the role of social media in residency recruitment?
The intent of this article is to highlight key considerations for both prospective candidates and recruiting programs entering the next Pharmacy Residency Match season. The following two articles are excellent resources for developing your decision on social media’s place in residency recruitment. The first is the “pharmacy residency program guide to Twitter” by Webb and colleagues. The other is a recently published “evaluation of use of social media and virtual meeting platforms in the pursuit of pharmacy residency training” by Fischetti and colleagues. For those considering social media as a recruitment tool, either as the recruiter or the recruit, but have not taken the plunge yet, consider the points discussed in this article to help you determine if social media can help achieve your end result, a fitting match!
In a survey of 714 pharmacy professionals pursuing residency training, the social media platforms used the most were Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The remainder of this article will primarily explore usage of Twitter, but the concepts discussed can be applied to Instagram and Facebook. While the survey highlights most did not use social media when reviewing programs nor was it their primary information source, the authors concluded that residency program accounts can provide residency programs with a free additional tool for recruitment.
FOR RESIDENCY PROGRAMS
Webb and colleagues’ guide orients both new and seasoned Twitter users to operating a residency program social media account. While I strongly recommend reading the article, below are a few of the key takeaways.
- Collaborate with institutional social media or marketing departments
- If you are at an institution where your physician colleagues have an account for their ID fellowship/division, ask them about their experience in creating their account.
- Develop a manual or guidance document outlining the goals of the account
- While some institutions require this as a part of a request to create a health-system affiliated social media account, it is a great idea to make one if you are not required to. This type of document is especially helpful for account management transitions in resident managed accounts.
- Do not reinvent the wheel!
- Analyze other residency program accounts. Did a certain post create a lot of discussion, retweets and likes? Part of using Twitter is keeping up with the latest trends.
- Celebrate residents and preceptors
- Did a current or past resident’s project get accepted for publication? Was fellowship status awarded to a preceptor? Did you pass accreditation with flying colors? Celebrate these accomplishments! It is an easy way to advertise to prospective candidates the quality of your program without them having to ask!
- Build a local Twitter network
- Get your students, residents and preceptors involved! Their amplification of your recruitment efforts is vital to a thriving residency program account.
IMPORTANT: Institutional policies may prevent the creation of institutional accounts. Some institutions feel department-run social media accounts do not align with their organization branding strategy. Circumventing these policies by using your personal account as a substitute is not recommended and could result in legal action against you.
Need a list of example Twitter residency program accounts to check out? I have got you covered!
FOR PROSPECTIVE RESIDENCY CANDIDATES
Multiple pharmacy organizations have guidance or best practice documents pertaining to social media use. The American College of Clinical Pharmacy or ACCP, have the “Creating Your Digital Brand” tutorial on Twitter use. This is my go to resource for orienting new pharmacy-oriented Twitter users. Here some tips for you:
- Follow relevant #hashtags
- Webb and colleagues describe the common hashtags used in the Twitter space. #PharmRes is dedicated for content about pharmacy residency. #TwitteRx is for anything pharmacy related. Oftentimes these two are used together. Specialities have hashtags as well, #IDTwitter #PharmICU and #OncoPharm are a few examples.
- Showcase yourself
- Poster at a conference? Clinical pearl to share? Presentation to your peers? Highlight what you are doing! There are hashtags specifically for this type of content #PharmEd and #OTILT. As a learner, it is recommended to have a preceptor review your content if it involves a clinical pearl.
- Develop a clever handle
- While most pharmacy social media accounts are a combination of Rx or PharmD with their name, take the opportunity to be creative! My twitter handle @floralquinolone was inspired by my use of botanicals in cocktails and a versatile class of antibiotics.
- Do not engage trolls
- Social media can be a toxic place. Some individuals, unfortunately find pleasure in spreading vitriol. I made the mistake, ONCE, to comment on inappropriate ivermectin use for COVID-19 treatment on Twitter. Take my advice, no good comes from engaging the trolls. If one interacts with you, ignore or block the account.
- Be professional
- If you would not say it in front of your peers in person, you probably should not say it in the social media space. Depending on your profile settings, everyone can see what you say. You can choose to mark your account private to protect your social media content, but this dual-edged move will make your content significantly less discoverable. Choose whatever professional setting and utilize social media that aligns with your goals.
Need a list of example Twitter resident accounts? I’ve got you covered!
Helpful Resources & Readings
- AACP Social Media Resource Guide for Faculty, Students, Staff, and Administrators
- ASHP Statement on Use of Social Media by Pharmacy Professionals
- A Short History of Free Open Access Medical Education. The Past, Present, and Future
- ASHP Match Statistics
- Evaluation of the Use of Social Media and Virtual Meeting Platforms in the Pursuit of Pharmacy Residency Training
- Compete or commit: Preferences for early commitment process or ASHP Match among pharmacy residency program directors and residents
- The pharmacy residency program guide to Twitter
- Evaluating Applicant Perceptions of the Impact of Social Media on the 2020-2021 Residency Application Cycle Occurring During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Survey Study
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