Physicians can use social media platforms to educate peers and patients, provide emotional support, or advocate.
Several studies have established social media as an effective tool for meeting these objectives.
Clinicians who are interested in building their social media presence should consider following the example of these seven physician influencers.
Love it or loathe it, social media can have a positive effect on human health and medicine. Research has demonstrated that when clinicians share knowledge via social media, it helps improve how people seek and use health information, keeps patients and providers informed, offers emotional and peer support for those undergoing care, and keeps colleagues connected socially and intellectually.
Physicians who have some clinical pearls they would like to share in 2023 may want to follow the example of these seven social media-savvy physicians.
Akua Ampadu, MD
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated physician burnout in the US. According to a 2022 survey published by The Physicians Foundation, six out of 10 doctors reported feelings of burnout in 2022, compared with four out of 10 in 2018.
Dr. Ampadu can help. A hospitalist working for New York-Presbyterian Hospital, she also has extensive experience with locum tenens work. She parlays all of this experience into an impressive Instagram account through which she coaches physicians and other healthcare professionals on wellness, burnout prevention, locum work, and the skillful use of social platforms such as LinkedIn.
Looking to close 2022 with intention? Check out her End of Year Health Checklist. Or maybe you’re looking for a little fitness motivation in the New Year? Give this short-and-sweet post on accountability a read.Related: Cardiologists educating cardiologists: The power of social media
Nancy Yen Shipley, MD
Orthopedic surgeon? Check. Businesswoman? Yes. Educator? Check. And a snowboarder to boot.
Add podcaster and Instagram influencer to this impressive list. Dr. Yen Shipley’s Instagram page is a trove of education and inspiration. Check out this post for a behind-the-scenes look at BEAR-enhanced ACL repair.
Dr. Yen Shipley also serves as a reminder of the growth that lies on the other side of resistance, whether that resistance is to gender discrimination (a topic covered on her podcast) or the fear of taking on a snowboarding race or an elevated ropes course. Dr. Yen Shipley shows us the power of persistence.
Nii-Daako Darko, DO
Doctors typically graduate from medical school and conclude residency with a wealth of medical knowledge. But a wealth of knowledge about building wealth? That’s often another matter entirely—and a critical one, considering that the mean medical school debt for 2022 medical school graduates is $205,037, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Dr. Darko has some insights to offer. The trauma and acute care surgeon is the host of Docs Outside the Box, a podcast that blends medicine, finance, and a smattering of pop culture.
Dr. Darko’s mission is to deliver the distilled lessons of doctors and entrepreneurs who have used the money they’ve earned to improve their lifestyles—basically, the information you won’t find in your med school textbooks.Related: How clinicians can counteract medical misinformation
Hazel Wallace, MD
There’s another area of medical education that’s apparently lacking (and another doctor who is working to close that knowledge gap): nutrition.
According to an American Journal of Medicine study, 22% of doctors recall receiving no nutritional training in medical school. And while the majority recalled some training, 35% said it was limited to only one lecture or a portion of one lecture.
Hazel Wallace, MD, a UK-based doctor and registered nutritionist, can give you nutritional guidance, which patients can access, too. Her Instagram page will make your mouth water, your waistline smaller, and your nutritional knowledge more robust.
Ever wonder how much protein people should be eating daily? This post could offer some insights. Looking for some guidance on creating new eating habits? This post describes a useful approach. Or perhaps you just need a quick meal idea. This post, and many others, will get you started.Related: Have you heard of these modern medical conspiracy theories?
Will Flanary, MD
Dr. Flanary’s name may not ring a bell, but you may have heard of his hilarious alter-ego, Dr. Glaucomflecken. Dr. Flanary, an ophthalmologist, is the brain and sense of humor behind this entertaining character, whose satirical antics you’ll find on TikTok.
Long before becoming a physician, Dr. Flanary was a stand-up comedian. After COVID-19 shut down his practice, he turned to TikTok to pass the time and generate a few laughs. What began as a passion project now has 2 million followers and a supplemental revenue stream from YouTube and Cameo.Related: Uncomfortable social media situations doctors should avoid
Don S. Dizon, MD
Dr. Dizon lives a busy life. He’s the director of medical oncology at Rhode Island Hospital and the vice-chair for diversity, equity, inclusion, and professional integrity at SWOG Cancer Research Network.
He’s also a professor of medicine at the Brown University Medical School, a researcher (he’s a co-author on one of the papers mentioned at the top of this article), and a patient advocate. Rounding out this impressive CV, Dr. Dizon is a medical social media pioneer.
You’ll find Dr. Dizon on Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter. On the first two platforms, he shares heartfelt patient stories, a lesson on the words physicians use with patients, and the importance of connecting with patients. His Twitter account is a wealth of information for current and aspiring oncologists alike.Related: TikTok: A tool for physicians, or a risk to professionalism?
Sasha Shillcutt, MD
Anyone who finishes residency most likely has developed a near-superhuman power to go above and beyond the call of duty, all while being sleep-deprived and stressed. Perhaps a side effect of that power is difficulty in setting boundaries. Sound familiar? Dr. Shillcut is here to help.
Dr. Shillcutt is the anesthesiologist, professor, and entrepreneur behind Brave Enough, which teaches women physicians how to establish work-life control.
She is also an author. Her most recent book, Brave Boundaries, may help physicians who struggle with saying no, a word that may have been trained out of their vocabulary.
Dr. Shillcutt’s Instagram page is a great place to gain a sense of who she is and what lessons she has to offer. Check out her posts on handling the opinions of others, the importance of setting boundaries, and the nature of female authority.
What this means for you
Social media can be an invaluable tool for physicians. These influencers highlight how social media platforms can serve as places of patient advocacy, peer and patient education, and wisdom on topics such as finances and work/life balance. Doctors who are interested in building their social media presence will find good models in these noteworthy examples.