Doctors are using TikTok to blow off steam and educate teens

Doctors are turning to TikTok to educate the youngest generations and blow off steam after a stressful day of keeping people alive. 

Gynecologist Danielle Jones, known on YouTube and TikTok as @mamadoctorjones, uses the app to dispel reproductive myths. Does melatonin make birth control ineffective? No, she explains, but it can make you sleep through your determined time to take the pill. In another TikTok, she shows off her copper IUD Halloween costume. In another, she goofs off and dances to music as she shares some of the common things people say to her when she tells them she’s an OB-GYN.

Marlena, a pediatric nurse who makes TikToks under the name @marlsw, uses the app to inform users about basic first aid. In one video, she explains how to respond to someone having a seizure.

Rose Marie Leslie, a medical resident better known on TikTok as @drleslie, started using the app as a way to show the “hectic lifestyle” residents deal with every day. Since she has experience in health education, she says incorporating educational elements in her videos came naturally. Matching the platform’s largest demographic’s interests, most of her content has to do with vaping or birth control. Whether explaining vape crisis follow ups or imploring her followers to get their flu shot, Leslie’s “Daily Doctor Facts” bring an informational flair to the app.

“When reaching teens, I think it is important to meet them where they are — at this point in time, that place is social media,” Leslie said in a Twitter DM. “I present my health information as if I were talking to one of my friends.”

Leslie’s video warning TikTok users about the effects of vaping on human lungs landed on the For You Page earlier this year, at the height of the outbreak of vape-related lung injuries. In the video, she points out the web of lighter spots on a chest X-ray from a patient with the disease. A healthy set of lungs, she notes, should be clear. 

“That’s a pretty gnarly chest X-ray, and I would not want to have that disease,” she says in the TikTok. “If you’re thinking about quitting, now’s the time to do it.” 

Not all have been receptive to Leslie’s content. Her vaping video’s comment section is littered with responses like “Dang that’s whack *hits juul*” and “Eh. I like it. I’ll die early but happy.” Others doubted her credibility and insisted that the X-ray was fake. (It’s not, it was also published in the New York Times.)

Leslie takes it in stride.

“Of course, whenever you shed negative light on something perceived as ‘cool,’ people are going to react negatively,” she said, noting that many of the dismissive responses were from TikTok users who sold vaping products like black market THC cartridges

In another video, Leslie demonstrates how simple Nexplanon insertion is. The device, which is a hormonal birth control method that’s more than 99 percent effective and can last up to three years, is inserted under the skin. 

She shows the camera just how small the device is — about the size of a matchstick! — and how simple insertion can be. Leslie demonstrates loading the device into an applicator, and then pulls back the model layer of skin to show the implant embedded into a wad of cotton that’s meant to represent the patient’s subdermal layer. Then, she carefully explains how it’s removed. 

Leslie curates her content to specifically educate young people whose sex education courses may have skipped past what teenagers really want to know. 

In one video, she debunks douching and other scented vaginal products as “a load of medical bologna.” She emphasizes that scented products can actually increase the likelihood of unpleasant conditions like bacterial vaginosis (BV) and yeast infections because the vagina is already “self cleaning.” 

In another, which uses the viral “Itchin and Burnin” sound, Leslie notes that while vaginal itching and burning could be caused by a sexually transmitted disease, it could also be caused by something as simple as BV

Her videos only scratch the surface of the medical field, but Leslie’s content is more engaging than reading a pamphlet at the doctor’s office or skimming through a WebMD article. 

“We know that the majority of young people are consuming their news online,” Leslie said. “Because of this, it is absolutely critical for physicians and public health experts to be reaching out to this population in online spaces.”

Watching medical professionals being cheesy on TikTok to have a little fun during a hectic day and educate the younger people on the platform is a nice change of pace for the medical world. They’re honest about educating, and their willingness to be silly on the app to get their message across can be both entertaining and endearing. 

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