TikTok launched in 2016 and in just six short years, its robust algorithm has made it the number one social media platform that keeps countless people engaged with not so random video clips generated by an FYP page. In fact, in 2020, BBC News reported that the app’s algorithm ”learns what content users like to see far faster than many other apps.” Currently, it has been downloaded more than 200 million times in the United States and has over one billion active users.
It is pretty hard to resist, especially if time flies while you’re spending hours scrolling through animal videos, “storytime,” watching Zach King’s Magic Ride video, which has more than 2.2 billion views, or if you’re simply want to learn Lizzo’s dance moves for her song “About Damn Time.”
In between the fun and games, there are a number of really cool Black physicians who use their platforms to deliver sage advice and spot on information to a wider audience. Their creatively informative videos are making the rounds and influencing the way lots of Black people approach health and wellness in their personal lives.
Yes, there are real physicians on there talking about everything from COVID-19 to eczema. Here are six of our favorite docs on TikTok using their platform to elevate the conversation around medical care.
Serign Marong, MD – @serendipity.md
Specialty: Family Medicine, patients from newborns on up
“I really enjoy family medicine because I like getting to know my patients and their families on a long-term basis, helping me to take better care of them. I produce content on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, because part of being a doctor is educating.
I figure there are a lot of people I can reach through those platforms who would never actually go to see a doctor. While genetics plays a role in our health every day, I see examples of patients who are the same age but very different in their overall health, and the difference is how they’ve taken care of themselves. Having a family doc you see regularly is a way to keep track of that overall wellness.”
Basil Nwaoz, MD – @doctorbasilmd
Specialty: Plastic Surgeon, reconstructive, and hand surgery
“My greatest passion is cosmetic and aesthetic plastic surgery of the face and body. Growing up, I was always fascinated with drawing and sculpting and loved biology. One day, I saw this commercial on TV about Operation Smile and its work in underserved communities. It was amazing to see the transformations and even more amazing to see how positively they affected people's lives, especially the children. I knew that I wanted to be part of that.
Our community still frowns upon cosmetic surgery and procedures. However, I encourage all participants to be well-informed and responsible. There are a lot of misconceptions out there, so consulting with a professional is always best. Plastic surgery is like a custom suit, it's designed specifically for that particular patient, and someone else's results or surgical journey is specific to them.
I like producing content on TikTok because I like to educate. I grew up in a family where we struggled to make ends meet. However, I dreamed big and really believed that if I just stayed consistent, it would all come to fruition. Maybe I can change the narrative on what the "classic" doctor looks and acts like while maintaining the same degree of excellence, compassion, and scholarship.”
Nnaemeka Nweke, MD – @dr_onyemmeme_md
Specialty: Physical Medicine and rehab; Resident physician at Baylor College of Medicine Physical medicine and Rehabilitation program
“I chose [to practice] physical medicine and rehab because losing human function can be detrimental to a person socially, economically, mentally, and of course, physically. This field looks at function as a whole and helps individuals make up for their loss with rehabilitation and support via other means. I create TikTok videos to motivate others.”
John Wesley Patton, III, MD, MBA – @docjp3
“I pursued anesthesiology because I liked both surgery and medicine. It is an excellent mix of both, as we must have a keen understanding of medicine and pathophysiology as it is integral to what we do.
One of the concerns I have, particularly for communities of color, is that often individuals—for many reasons— present late when they are dealing with a health-related issue. Notably, our people have a long history of mistrusting the healthcare system. Furthermore, our communities were stripped of resources due to policies implemented during segregation and Jim Crow (e.g., redlining), making it challenging to seek and receive adequate and quality health care.
Still, you need to seek medical care early as it allows us to explore lifestyle modifications and treatment options and/or give attention to whatever issues you may be dealing with early on to help prevent chronic illness and deleterious effects on your body.
Social media allows healthcare professionals [like myself] to connect with people in meaningful ways. Utilizing social media platforms like TikTok helps to meet patients where they are, allowing us to interact with our community, educate, and build trust. However, there is a lot of misinformation circulating on social media and online. I believe it is our responsibility to combat misinformation to protect our communities and keep them safe.”
Nathan Kanyinda, M.D. – @doc_nk
Specialty: Ophthalmologist specializing in oculofacial plastic surgery and aesthetics
“I chose my specialty because it allows me to be both technical and artistic. I enjoy making a difference in someone’s life, and helping people to feel better is very satisfying.
I did not intentionally mean to become a TikTok influencer, but I quickly realized it was a platform I could use to teach, entertain, and motivate others to chase their dreams as I did. I am very specialized, and thus, discussing topics regarding my specialty is always a learning opportunity for potential patients or even other doctors.”
Christopher F. Raynor, MD – @dr.chrisraynor
Speciality: Orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine, joint replacement and trauma surgeries.
“I always enjoyed working with my hands and completing technical tasks, so I was always drawn toward surgical specialties once I entered the field of medicine. As a varsity athlete, I was interested in sports medicine, kinesiology, and anatomy, so orthopedic surgery appealed to me.
Given the audience that is found on TikTok, I can directly communicate with young people to help them make sound health decisions that will improve their quality of life and help them avoid injury and illness in the future. If used appropriately, TikTok is an excellent tool for educating people about their health.”