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Medical Student, Resident, and Chair of the GW SMHS Dermatology Department Publish Letter in Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology

In a letter published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Gabrielle Schwartzman, a medical student at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), SMHS dermatology resident Azam Qureshi, MD, and Adam Friedman, MD, chair of the Department of Dermatology and professor of dermatology at SMHS, assessed how dermatology residency programs were using Instagram during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the 136 accredited dermatology residency programs, Schwartzman, Qureshi, and Friedman considered those which had their first posts during or before the 2020-2021 application cycle. Using the number of likes to determine engagement, the three sorted posts into seven groups relating to residents, faculty, research and conferences, education and lectures, residency program information, program social events, and other.

“We found that of the 62 programs active on Instagram, 48 were created during the 2020-2021 application cycle,” Friedman said. “That is a huge jump from the nine programs that were using Instagram in 2019. More, 77% of those 62 programs were created in the 2020-2021 cycle alone.”

The team also found that about 40% of the most liked posts featured resident content, such as individual profiles, including residents’ motivations to pursue dermatology and their specific program as well as interests and hobbies. These posts also featured graduation classes and fellowship matches. Some accounts used additional Instagram tools, such as reels, IGTV, live streams, and the highlight reel.

“Instagram has emerged as a powerful platform for dermatology residency programs, particularly with the COVID-19 pandemic limiting in-person activities,” Friedman said. “Instagram isn’t just popular with dermatology; other specialty programs are using it as well. It’s been an innovative solution for promoting residency programs and recruiting applicants, and it may become an integral part of how these programs operate. The next step is developing best-use guidelines.”

To access the letter, “Utilization of Instagram by Dermatology Residency Programs in the Era of COVID-19,” visit the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.