Background: The type of content that influences plastic and reconstructive surgery (PRS) residency program selection and attracts applicants is continually changing and not clearly understood. Further, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a major yet undetermined impact on residency selection. Objectives: The purpose of this study was to determine the type of PRS social media (SM) content that drives prospective applicants' interest in a residency program, and the degree of SM influence on applicants, especially in the context of COVID-19. Methods: Prospective PRS residency applicants were surveyed anonymously. Results: An average of 60% of respondents reported that PRS SM content influenced their perception of a program. Fifty-eight percent reported that resident lifestyle content made them more interested in a program. Separately, 32% reported that resident lifestyle content influenced them to rank a program higher. Seventy-two percent of respondents claimed SM content did not make them lose interest in a program. Rarely posting, outdated content, and lack of engagement were cited as factors for loss of interest in a program. A majority of respondents (53%) reported wanting to see more resident life and culture content on SM. Of the existing PRS SM content, respondents were most interested in resident lifestyle, followed by clinical and program-specific content. Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic amplified the importance of SM PRS residency selection. Resident lifestyle content was consistently indicated as more likely to make respondents gain interest in a program, rank a program higher, and as the most desired content. PRS programs will benefit from highlighting resident camaraderie, quality of life, hobbies, and lifestyle to attract applicants.
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