Older and wiser? Changes in unprofessional content on urologists’ social media after transition from residency to practice

Kevin Koo, Max S. Bowman, Zita Ficko, E. Ann Gormley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: To characterize changes in the frequency and nature of unprofessional content on urologists’ Facebook accounts during the transition from residency to practice. Methods: Facebook was queried with the names of all 2015 US urology graduates 1 year after completion of residency. We identified unprofessional and potentially objectionable content on the public Facebook accounts using a rubric based on professionalism guidelines by the American Urological Association, the American Medical Association and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Comparisons of unprofessional content were made with data from this cohort collected at the completion of residency. To assess how professional identities were reflected on social media, we determined which urologists self-identified as a urologist on Facebook and any changes in their unprofessional content. Results: Of 281 urologists, 198 (70%) had publicly identifiable Facebook accounts. Of these, 85 (43%) contained any unprofessional or potentially objectionable content, including 35 (18%) with explicitly unprofessional content. Examples included images of and references to intoxication, explicit profanity, and offensive comments about patients. Of the 201 Facebook accounts that had been publicly identifiable at the completion of residency, most profiles (182, 91%) had remained public; of the 19 that were no longer public, about half had previously contained unprofessional content. Similarly, of the 80 urologists without public profiles 1 year previously, most (64, 80%) had remained unidentifiable on Facebook; of the 16 accounts that had since become publicly identifiable, half had unprofessional content. Among the urologists on Facebook overall, 11 (6%) had posted new unprofessional or potentially objectionable content since entering practice. Comparing this cohort in practice vs at the completion of residency, there were no significant differences in how many urologists had public Facebook accounts (70% vs 71%) or whose accounts had concerning content (43% vs 40%). The presence of unprofessional content at the completion of residency strongly predicted having unprofessional content later in practice. More urologists overall self-identified as being a urologist on Facebook, and a larger proportion of these profiles also displayed unprofessional content (53% vs 47% 1 year previously). Conclusion: Most urologists maintained public Facebook accounts after the transition to practice, and about half of these contained unprofessional or potentially objectionable content. Amidst their increasing self-identification as urologists on social media, the majority of practising urologists had posted concerning content, which could have an impact on their professional identities and public perceptions of the specialty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-343
Number of pages7
JournalBJU International
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • graduate medical education
  • professionalism
  • residency
  • social media
  • unprofessional behaviour

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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