Impact of Social Media on Applicant Perspectives of Ophthalmology Residency Programs

Sanket S. Shah, Sravya Veligandla, Christopher Compton, Hasenin Al-khersan, Jayanth Sridhar
Journal of Academic Ophthalmology
Jul 2022

Purpose: This article evaluates the relevance of social media to ophthalmology residency applicants in the setting of virtual interviews, the types of information sought by applicants, and the impact of rebranding of an institutional and departmental social media account. 

Participants: Ophthalmology residency applicants from the 2020 to 2021 cycle.

Methods: A voluntary survey was emailed to 481 applicants to the University of Louisville Department of Ophthalmology residency during the 2020 to 2021 application cycle to gauge the impact of social media on their perspectives of residency programs, especially with regards to a new departmental social media account.

Main Outcome Measures: Applicants' use of social media platforms and specific components of departmental social media accounts found most useful.

Results: The 13-question survey was completed by 84/481 applicants (17.5% response rate). Social media was used by 93% of respondents. Of those respondents reporting social media use, the most common platforms utilized included Instagram (85%), Facebook (83%), Twitter (41%), and LinkedIn (29%). Sixty-nine percent of respondents specifically used Instagram to learn more about residency programs. With regards to the rebranded Instagram account at the University of Louisville, 58% of respondents reported being influenced, with all asserting that the account positively encouraged them to apply to the program. The most informative elements of the account related to current resident profiles, resident life, and living in Louisville.

Conclusion: A majority of responding ophthalmology residency applicants utilized social media to search for program information. A newly developed social media profile at a single institution positively influenced applicant impressions of the program, with the most importance assigned to information provided about current residents and typical resident life. These findings suggest key areas where programs should continue to dedicate online resources with targeted information to better recruit applicants.