In the age where information is at the tip of our fingertips, anyone can find out information on any topic, including their healthcare provider. How do we protect ourselves from the information that is accessible to the public and what shows up with search results when we put our name in? The concept of connecting with old friends through online posts is popular amongst Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter users. Social media allows us to know what our friends are up to without any effort on our own end, which makes it so appealing to share our daily accomplishments, struggles, failures, and encounters.
Though professional behavior is always evident in human-to-human interactions, we may fall short if we don’t check on our online presence and the extent of what we share. It is important to periodically review your personal social media profiles and ask if the content is patient appropriate. Despite privacy settings, we need to realize whatever is online can be reposted, screen shot, and shared with the world. The mistakes we may have made 10 years ago could still be lingering on the Internet, so it is important to do a Google search of your name and what shows up. It could be a nice walk down memory lane or a reminder we shouldn’t have had that extra drink.
It never hurts to do an occasional search. If there are websites with information you’d rather not have public, contact the person directly and politely ask for it to be removed. Not only is it important to make sure there is no incriminating information about you online, keeping an online professional profile can distinguish your identity. Having a blog, Facebook page, Google+, or Twitter account all under a professional alias works to build your professional online image. At the end of the day, regardless of how you are sharing your opinion or what you are doing on the weekend, have some common sense before clicking “post.”
Editor’s Note: This column, appearing every other issue, is written by a future optometrist. In this forum, a different student will voice her or his thoughts on the profession. Know of someone who might be interested? Email Beth Schlau at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vivien Yip is a member of the Class of 2016 at Illinois College of Optometry, Chicago, IL, and a Trustee of the American Optometric Student Association.