Med students don’t need LinkedIn. Maintaining a profile however is a low-risk activity that could be of some benefit. Especially when it comes to networking, looking for new job or research opportunities and displaying your credentials and experience online.
Out of all social media platforms, it probably makes the most sense for med students to use. Unlike other, more personal platforms (where images, opinions and activities can cause occasional problems) it’s designed for business professionals to connect and share industry-based news. It also has a lot less “noise” compared to other networks too.
I’ve been on LinkedIn since the early days (mid-2010). Using it as a way to detail my experiences working in journalism, marketing and public relations, it’s proved pretty useful in helping me connect with potential employers and quickly share my CV. Now I’m in med school, I update my profile to show that too.
Here’s why I believe it’s a good idea:
- Low-threat, low-resource, high-yield action: Just like Kevin Pho writes, it doesn’t take long (or cost you anything) to add your profile to LinkedIn nor does it “expose” you in the same way Facebook, Instagram etc can. Connecting with ex-professors, teachers and other students around the globe can also lead to good opportunities too – especially in terms of projects and research.
- Networking for side-gigs/side-hustles: For those unfamiliar with this blog and my story; I work while in med school. Being on LinkedIn I’ve managed to land quite a few clients this way (and others by redirecting them to my profile). It’s an excellent way to connect and make business connections – see my article: business ideas for medical school.
- Networking for shadowing opportunities and clinical experience: As many other physicians maintain a presence on the network, it can be a good idea to search locally and contact people about potential shadowing or work experience opportunities. Just check out this Reddit user, for example, who claims they were able to land research gigs in surgery by reaching out to people through LinkedIn.
- Set you up for future recruitment opportunities: Having a profile in place, listing your experience and showcasing your achievements, can help other healthcare recruiters reach out to you. This can give you an edge over other less-marketing savvy med students soon after graduating.
Of course that’s just me though. Many other med students would probably question the point of setting up LinkedIn. Especially as there’s a theory it doesn’t lend itself well to medicine or healthcare. Or that there are other ways (and platforms) of achieving similar results.
Note: it might be more useful in a post-Covid world. Especially as many face-to-face networking opportunities of old (conferences, events etc) have gone online.
What is LinkedIn?
Obviously none of the above will make much sense for those unaware of LinkedIn. Basically it’s a social media platform for career professionals to network. Launched in 2003, it’s now grown to become one of the biggest social networks on the web. Healthcare companies and medical-industry business have a large presence on the platform.
Anyone can sign up and create a profile. Usually you include your place of study and field of study as well as your past career history. Recruiters use this information often to target people as candidates for jobs.
Do Pre-Meds Need LinkedIn?
Although they don’t need LinkedIn, pre-med students can benefit from it. Having a profile is useful for admissions board representatives to look at. As well providing them a quick way to vet a potential candidate – something that can put them in a positive and professional light!
Due to LinkedIn’s power in Google search, it’s also a good way of appearing in a search without the need of a website. Having a profile could bump down other social media accounts – especially the less professional ones – further down in the results. So that’s something to consider too (although schools – US-based ones – can still see most of your details on your ERAS).
Another good reason to join LinkedIn for pre-meds is that there’s a lot of good content available there. Specifically content (like this for example) that’s geared toward helping them increase their success of matriculating into med school.
As its a blogging platform for many health experts and professionals, there’s a lot of expertise shared there through both articles and updates. Signing up and having a profile gives you a chance to interact with this content. It also enables you to ask questions from people who could give you valuable advice as to how to advance your career.
Finally having a profile could also help you keep track of your medical experiences as a sort of journal or real-time resume. Especially if you make a strong effort in keeping your account updated, adding placements, conferences you ateend etc.
Do Med Schools Look at LinkedIn?
There’s no definitive answer here as every school has a different process. Having a profile however, as mentioned before, couldn’t do any harm. Especially compared to an applicant that doesn’t (giving you a competitive edge).
It’s probably safe to say that med schools do try to look at social media accounts to vet students however (just as most employers do). LinkedIn, in that sense, is one of the more “safer” platforms to use. It also makes you look more professional too.
Best Practices for Med Students Joining LinkedIn
If you do decide to join LinkedIn in med school, here are a few suggestions:
- Keep your profile up to date: add internships, shadowing opportunities, research papers etc
- Expand your network: send cold emails to physicians in specialties you’re interested in just introducing yourself in plain language (you never know where these introductions can lead)
- Add a professional photo: this can help increase your authority and response rate when attempting to network
- Post an occasional article or update: sharing interesting medicine-based news and information or talking about your own experiences in a useful way
- Complete your profile in as much detail as possible: helps recruiters locate and contact you (not just hospitals or clinics)
- Add professors, teachers and physician connections you make in med school: stay up-to-date with their activities could lead to future opportunities to collobarate and work together on different projects
Do Doctors Use LinkedIn?
Many doctors use LinkedIn. Especially as it’s useful in finding locum work, private work and lots of other career-based opportunities they can do outside their normal day job. According to the platform itself, over 2 million doctors keep profiles on the site. So it is definitely worth exploring.
Here are the main activities doctors use LinkedIn for:
- Branding: as many private practice physicians are business owners they need to market their services to find customers. LinkedIn is one way to brand themselves, find referrals and share leads with other similar-placed healthcare businesses.
- Further education: many education-based companies will promote courses and offer discounts across the site. For physicians connected and following certain training organisations via the platform, often they get to be the first to hear about new courses or iniatives that can push their skills and businesses forward.
- Reputation management and online visibility: being in direct control of your messages and your output is one way doctors can manage their reputations in the eyes of their patients. The SEO-weight a LinkedIn profile also carries can help local physicians get found and contacted in Google by patients.
Although it’s not necessary for med students to be active on LinkedIn I do think it can help. For me personally it’s been a good way to make connections, line up work experience and earn money in med school from side hustles.
Of course it’s not for everyone. Most students might see any activity there as something premature – especially if they are several years away from graduating. While it can also act as an added distraction to.
The fact it’s free and fast to sign up though – and that there are millions of doctors using it – means it could be something you’ll want to get involved in sooner or later.
Image Credit – @solomac at Unsplash
Born and raised in the UK, Will went into medicine late (31) after a career in digital marketing and journalism. He’s into football (soccer), learned Spanish after 5 years in Spain, and has had his work published all over the web. Read more.