Many physicians are wary of using social media, and for good reason. Healthcare professionals must always be sensitive to their patients’ privacy, and on social media you never want to risk having any sort of HIPAA violation. However, it is important to remember that if you are a physician who is looking for a change in your career, social media can help you with your job search significantly. First, employers often use social media to screen candidates before interviewing them or before making a final decision on the right candidate. If you have a searchable online presence, employers can feel more comfortable in their decision to hire you. Second, social media can be a powerful tool for networking with other healthcare professionals. In fact, physicians and other healthcare professionals are increasingly using social media to help augment their job searches.
Working with a recruiter and receiving a referral directly from the organization are still the most effective ways to find the next fit for your career, but there are definitely some things to consider when it comes to social media and your job search. Here are some tips for using social media to strengthen your online presence as a healthcare professional.
Never share personal health data.
Regardless of whether or not you are looking for a change in your career, you should always be careful about what you share online—especially when it comes to personal health information that is protected by HIPAA. In short, you should never post any identifying information about patients online, including photos, personal contact information, charts, X-rays, and more. Do not talk about patients with other healthcare professionals online, and refrain from publishing any disparaging thoughts about your work or patients. It is also a safe idea to refrain from friending patients online, as they might ask you personal health questions publicly.
When surveying your online presence as you prepare to enter the job market, be sure to take a look at what employers will see if they search for you on Google. What comes up when you Google your own name? Old photos and information from your alma mater? A link to you current employer? Negative reviews from patients at a site like HealthGrades? You want your search results to highlight your strengths and accomplishments as a healthcare professional, so if they paint a different picture, you’ve got some work to do on your online presence.
Update the most important social networks.
Some social networks will take you farther than others in terms of rounding out your online presence. LinkedIn is the first social network you want to concentrate on updating. In general, you want to make sure it contains your most up-to-date work experience and credentials. Make sure it highlights your strengths and why you are passionate about medicine, and double check that it is viewable by employers. If there is anyone significant you have not yet connected with on LinkedIn, be sure you do that as well.
Don’t forget about consumer based sites like ZocDoc and Vitals. These sites allow physicians to create custom professional profiles, and patients can leave reviews about the physicians whom they see. Your profile should be up-to-date in these places as well if you have chosen to use them.
You might consider updating your profiles on sites like Facebook and Twitter as well, but it is perfectly reasonable to restrict these to personal use.
How engaged you are in social media is completely up to you, but you can use social media in profound ways to expand your knowledge base, build connections, and further your career. Consider following prominent healthcare professionals and medical news sites on Twitter to remain up-to-date with medical advances and discoveries. Join in on conversations where you have expertise. Share interesting medical articles on LinkedIn. And as always, be sure to maintain professionalism as you engage in public conversations. Being engaged professionally on these sites can strengthen your knowledge in the medical industry, and it can make you look like an attractive candidate to employers as well.