The COVID-19 Pandemic is Turning Doctors into Influencers

Rumors and misinformation have always been a common thing on our social media. Credible sources will try to fight it, but things spread quickly; this has been the case with the coronavirus.

When the pandemic hit the US, the Surgeon General asked social media influencers to engage with younger Americans and keep them informed about the pandemic. The younger generations seem to trust medical professionals who are on social media. TikTok has become one of the most popular ways for medical professionals to share information and educate the public.

Debunking Videos

“I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute… is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning? As you see, it gets in the lungs, it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that,” President Donald Trump said during a press briefing in April.

Those comments led Austin Chiang, a gastroenterologist at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, to turn to social media. Chiang posted a video on TikTok in his scrubs and lab coat and sat in front of a headline with Trump’s comments. “I promise I won’t pretend to know how to run a country if you don’t pretend to know how to practice medicine,” he wrote on the screen and mimicked screaming. The video has thousands of views in just a few short minutes.

Chiang has since added many more videos to his TikTok account, addressing other rumors about the virus and has gained a major following. He is just one of the medical professionals who have taken to social media to debunk rumors and share information about the coronavirus.

A Glimpse into Their Lives

Some doctors have been using social media to blow off steam, with many of them making silly dance videos as a way to goof off and relax. Others are sharing their experiences on the frontlines, talk about their stress and anxiety, and more, giving everyone a window into the lives of those who have to spend their days combating the virus.

Joel Hentrich, an operating room nurse in St. Louis, is sharing what it is like to be on the frontlines during this pandemic. “TikTok has been one of the ways that I can debrief from the stresses of being on the frontlines. The amount of love and support I’ve received has been nothing less than amazing,” Hentrich said in an interview.

Dr. Kimberly D. Manning, a doctor at Grady Memorial Hospital, shared her anxiety on Twitter, “I want to beat my chest and give a war cry. Swipe paint under my eyes and go running in fearless like the rest. I see my peers entering the middle of the coliseum glaring unapologetically at the enemy. I wish I felt the same. I do not. What I am is afraid.”

Josh Mugele, a Georgia ER doctor, has shared personal moments on Twitter throughout the pandemic, including updating his will and expressing his fears. “I’m scared for my patients and their health. I’m scared for the losses that so many people are going to experience. I’m scared for my community. I’m really scared for the economic devastation and the long-term effect that so many people are going to feel,” Mugele tweeted recently.

Medical professionals all over the world have taken to social media for these reasons and more. Doctors are becoming more human to their patients and showing the other side of this pandemic.

 

References

Chen, Tanya. “The Pandemic Is Turning Some Doctors And Nurses Into Social Media Stars. Is That A Good Thing?” BuzzFeed News, BuzzFeed News, 20 Apr. 2020, www.buzzfeednews.com/article/tanyachen/pandemic-turning-some-doctors-and-nurses-into-stars.

Clark, Dartunorro. “Trump Suggests ‘Injection’ of Disinfectant to Beat Coronavirus and ‘Clean’ the Lungs.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 24 Apr. 2020, www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/trump-suggests-injection-disinfectant-beat-coronavirus-clean-lungs-n1191216.

Ohlheiser, Abby. “Doctors Are Now Social-Media Influencers. They Aren’t All Ready for It.” MIT Technology Review, MIT Technology Review, 27 Apr. 2020, www.technologyreview.com/2020/04/26/1000602/covid-coronavirus-doctors-tiktok-youtube-misinformation-pandemic/.