Over the past few months there has been criticism of the medical Instagram community for participating in the influencer culture, by collaborating frequently with brands and the performative nature of sharing their reflections through their journey, some going as far to call into question the ethics of it all.
Here are some many positive aspects of Instagram’s medical community:
Often, patients end up asking the same questions when you go back into the patient’s room together.
They do this because they need to confirm your findings, but sometimes the patients looked at you like, “didn’t I just tell you all this?”
And you just stand there trying to apologize.
Doctors are being asked the same questions so many times, just because sometimes the med student are not telling the doctor what they told them.
It’s centering women in medicine.
Most of the influencers in the medical Instagram community are women.
And while women made progress as a field in facing patriarchal norms, they still have a long way to go before reaching equity within the field and changed society’s idea on who “looks” like a doctor.
There are opportunities for mentorship.
Doctors who have elders and generations before us who have done so have access to a lot of knowledge about the process that we take for granted.
Social media is largely accessible, and the Instagram medical community is constantly sharing a wealth of knowledge on mastering premed and med school courses, application processes, etc. that many may not have had access to otherwise.
Often, people make personal connections, and the mentorship continues offline.
It’s a space for us to nurture our creative selves.
The journey through medicine is a rigorous one, and doctors often have limited time to pursue things that bring them joy throughout it.
When engaging on Instagram, doctors are already writing, photographing and often also using the space to be accountable around and share other means of achieving wellness — poetry, fitness, spoken word, style and so much more.
It’s a potential space for advocacy surrounding public health issues like flu shots, organ donation… In addition to doing sponsored posts and sharing about their journeys through medicine, folks are also talking about important social issues.
When we have so many folks in the current and past administrations at state levels making poor decisions on policies affecting health care, it becomes even more important that we stay informed and use our platforms to talk about these issues.
The business acumen and entrepreneurship skills one gains from collaborating with brands, can later be translated to medical spaces and creating systems that work better for ourselves as providers to our patients, in a time when physicians are losing more and more autonomy.
Through these collaborations, we learn to negotiate and value our time.
All this will serve you throughout your careers, whether you end up in academia or in private practice.
It provides motivation and inspiration on this long and often brutal journey.
If you go through pretty much any post on a medical Instagrammer’s profile, you’ll see that many of the comments are folks thanking them for putting into words, what they were feeling but having difficult articulating themselves.
Simply having conversations surrounding mental health and illness is a very radical act, because, ironically, there is often no room for people in medicine to address their struggles with health or otherwise, but these conversations continue to be a big part of what most of us are doing on the platform.
There are, of course, conversations that need to happen around how to protect professionalism and continue to prioritize wellness of patients, in how we navigate this relatively new space.
Ads on Instagram are an integral means of advertisement for many brands, and the medical community is responsibly participating.