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Social Media Footprint: How Concerned Should Medical Professionals Be?

Hey Docs out there! What if your patients found out about your most embarrassing moment from college? What if they saw a picture of it? I was watching and listening to one of my favorite technology shows over the weekend called “The Tech Guy” with tech journalist Leo Laporte.

In the brief video here, you’ll see the host take a call from an attending physician. The caller stated that back before medical school, he posed for PlayGirl magazine and now some of those pics are showing up on websites and the caller was trying to figure out how to have them taken down. It sounds like the pictures were taken in the pre-internet days. For the full exchange, click here and fast forward to the time 13:21hrs on the clock behind the host.

This call opened up the larger issue of Online Reputation which has been talked about in Health Care Social Media circles for a long time. But, it is interesting seeing what this non-medical tech journalist (and the caller) says about it:

  • “One of my fellow colleagues in medical school was denied a residency position because of pictures of him drinking” (1:00): I tell high school students, medical school students, and residency physicians – I tell them to search their name to see what they find. If a med school, residency, or future employer don’t like what they find, that will definitely hurt your chances.
  • “Never post anything on the internet that you wouldn’t want family, friends, teachers, and future employers to see” (2:50): This is not new advice, but definitely worth emphasizing. Anything that you place online, whether it’s a picture, or blog post, or tweet, or facebook update, or anything else – not only is it out there – it is searchable and archived and available – Forever.
  • “If you have no internet presence at all, then anyone can control your internet presence.” “Staying off the intenet doesn’t protect you.” (3:46): As I talk about in my Family Medicine and Social Media presentation, for most physicians, their internet presence is (right now) defined by physician rating sites. Is this what you want current and future patients to know about you? Why not start taking control of your internet reputation by doing something as simple as creating a Linked-In account – check out mine here.

Still doubting that your online reputation, or your internet presence, or your social media footprint, is important? As time goes on, patients will be using the internet more, and they will be searching for you. What will they find? Don’t be defined by others. Take control of your own online reputation!

*This blog post was originally published at Family Medicine Rocks Blog*

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