A Medfluencer a day keeps the doctor away? ‘Medfluencer’ is the term for healthcare personnel that are also influencers, and these medfluencers have become very popular on social media. So how exactly did these doctors and nurses and dentists (and many, many more) get to become so well-known in the online world? And, more importantly, how can brands get involved?
‘Medfluencers’ aren’t the only health care professionals that we subscribe to. The first medical drama on American television was Dr. Kildare, and the show first aired in 1961. The show follows Dr. James Kildare, an intern navigating life in the fictionalized Blair General Hospital. The show was successful enough to run for 5 seasons, and you already know what comes next. Grey’s Anatomy, House, ER, Scrubs, The Good Doctor. The list can go on and on since obviously, our generation is obsessed with the drama surrounding lab coats and sterile gloves. But why do these shows continue to be so popular?
As a fan of all these shows myself, I think it’s due to the fact that most of the viewers of these shows aren’t aiming to be health care professionals themselves, and these shows allow us to glimpse what it’s like being a doctor or nurse in the stressful and cut-throat environment that is a hospital, albeit with a lot more drama, romance, and long-lost siblings (what is up with that trope anyway?)
But today, we no longer only have these recycled medical dramas to give us a peek into the medical world, we also have medical professionals/social media influencers to shine a light on what it means to be a doctor. From nurses on Tik Tok that document a day in their life to healthcare professionals answering questions on YouTube on their recommendations on how to get into med school, the niche of healthcare professionals on social media is slowly starting to expand.
Traditionally, healthcare professionals were discouraged from revealing anything about their personal lives to the public, as it was viewed as unprofessional if healthcare professionals shared any personal information. However, that mindset has slowly been shifting. More and more doctors are seeing social media platforms for what they truly are - a way to educate and reach more people than they could on an average workday.
Today, the influencers that are also healthcare professionals often use their social media platforms as a way to combat misinformation surrounding the various professions. Many nurses and doctors want to document that you can have both - a love for fitness or makeup or food, along with a medical degree. Some want to use their platform to educate and share their years of knowledge. Others want to use their social media simply as a creative outlet.
Take, for example, Jenny Le. Jenny not only makes videos about what it’s like to be a Family Medicine physician, but also makes videos on weight loss, and education videos on different subjects like PCOS and metabolism. Her video titled How To: Lose weight with PCOS received over 23,000 views.
When the pandemic hit, these health care professionals on social media started gaining a lot of traffic. Not only were we forced to stay in our houses, but nobody really understood what this pandemic was. With the help of these influencers on YouTube and TikTok and Instagram, we were able to see the harsh realities of what it means to be a health care professional during the pandemic, as well as being given credible information on what exactly this pandemic is.
The niche has grown so much that there is even a chief medical social media officer at Jefferson Health in Philadelphia, which is held by Austin Chiang, MD, a gastroenterologist and assistant professor of medicine.
Though most of the health care professionals on social media consider their platform as a hobby or ‘side-hustle’, many of them have enough of a following to garner a few sponsorships. However, when you’re promoting a product with the trust and intimacy that regular influencers have with their audience, along with the expertise and reputation you may have as a doctor or nurse, these health care professionals must also consider the ethics behind what they’re promoting. Doctor Mike, a Family Medicine doctor and a popular doctor influencer on YouTube and Instagram stated in an interview for MIT Technology Review that he accepts sponsors for his Instagram and YouTube accounts, be he has to make sure that those sponsorships don’t look like medical endorsements.
Any content creator knows that the number one rule in brand partnerships and sponsorships is to promote products that you truly believe in because that genuine enthusiasm and love for a product is what will come across in the video. Doctor Mike, in another interview for Business Insider, that he turns down 90% of endorsements that come his way because a majority of them are for products that he doesn’t believe in. Some of the brands that Doctor Mike has successfully partnered up with over on his YouTube channel are ShipStation, shipping software that’s designed to save you time and money on eCommerce order fulfillment, as well as ThriveMarket, an e-commerce membership-based retailer offering natural and organic food products.
Check out Doctor Mike’s collab with ShipStation here:
It’s also important to remember that product marketing isn’t new in the healthcare industry. There have always been salespeople promoting drugs in doctors’ offices, and these doctors have always been compensated for recommending certain products or prescriptions. At least with sponsorships on social media platforms, viewers can easily see which posts and videos are sponsored content.
Dr. Mikhail Varshavski, known to his followers as Doctor Mike, is a board-certified Family Medicine Doctor, but that’s not all he is. After being featured in a Buzzfeed article about how attractive he is in 2015 and in People magazine’s 2015 “Sexiest Man Alive” issue, Doctor Mike has managed to grow his social media presence to 9.44 million on YouTube and 4.4 million on Instagram. Doctor Mike regularly reacts to popular medical dramas, like Grey’s Anatomy and House, and educates his viewers on different viral medical trends.
When Jamie started posting “Study With Me” videos while in med school, viewers flocked to join her for her study sessions. These “Study With Me” videos were a win-win situation since both Jamie and her viewers got their work done. Since then, Jamie has graduated from med school, but she still gives her viewers a peek into what it means to be an emergency medicine doctor and all the rewards and challenges of the lifestyle.
Dr. Brenda Mondragon is a licensed chiropractor whose YouTube channel features an impressive backlog of videos filled with back cracks and neck pops. Brenda is fun and engaging and it’s always a pleasure to see her battle with the bones of patients that range from ex-gymnasts to current Marines soldiers. Plus, the ASMR quality of her videos is top-notch.
Dr. Danielle Jones is an OB/GYN physician and mother of four who’s here to provide accurate information on a range of women’s topics - periods, contraceptives, birth, and more. So many of these topics are shadowed by taboo and not knowing what you don’t know, and with her perfect blend of humor and knowledge, Danielle is the perfect source for these kinds of discussions.
None of these YouTube channels will showcase a secret pregnancy or the sudden discovery of a new disease, but that’s what you have Grey’s Anatomy for.
Are you a brand that’s interested in partnering with a health care professional on YouTube? Check out our YouTube sponsorship calculator to find how much a certain channel is worth, and make sure to reach out to us with any questions!