F086 TikTok 2/2: Interested in weird medical facts? (Karan Raj)

2020 seems to be the year in which TikTok is becoming the platform for doctors to share educational, medical content, insight into their medical career paths, and relaxation with Tiktok they take time for during their breaks.

Tjaša Zajc
Jun 27, 2020 · 4 min read

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Many jobs are predictable. Being a medical doctor on call for emergency cases is not one of them. On his regular week on call as an emergency surgeon on call, Karan Ray would see anyone with complaints in the abdominal area and would perform numerous emergency operations of appendicitis, hernia operations, perforated bowel, or dead bowel, to name a few examples. While doing all this, his pager might warn him about a message. He could receive 20 calls during a two-hour emergency operation. While pagers had officially been banned in the UK in 2019, doctors still use them as well as dumbphones for urgent messages and calls to other doctors. “The noise of the phone, and someone answering the phone and trying to relay messages to me, all this will potentially take away my focus from the patient who’s asleep, and I’m operating on, which is not good because I need to focus. However, I also need to be aware that the phone call that I’m getting, might be something urgent for another sick patient,” says Karan Raj.

Clinical reality is hard to imagine for those that are not experiencing it on a daily basis. It is because medicine is complex and demanding that doctors are well respected and have been seen as gods in the not so recent history. They are, however, very human — with their own personal stories, families, and ways to relax. Already in 2019, they started to share their stories on TikTok. In 2020, the presence on the platform exploded.

Karan Raj.

Karan Raj is a “veteran” in online education. He founded TheOSCEstation — an online medical education website with videos explaining different medical topics. TheOSCEstation primarily targets medical students and has been around on Youtube for several years. Dr. Raj works at Frimley Park Hospital NHS Foundation Trust as a Surgical Registrar, but he is also a Honorary Lecturer at Imperial College London, where he teaches e-learning & undergraduate medicine; he is Honorary Senior Lecturer at Sunderland University.

His two social media related research papers were published last year — Online digital media: the uptake of YouTube-based digital clinical education (DCE), YouTube For Stoma Surgery Information For Patients: Are We There Yet?.

Given his research interest in the development of medical education and his interest in the role of social media platforms in this mix, going to TikTok was a natural move for him. He started using TikTok as a consumer in November 2019 and hardly in February this year, during a discussion with a colleague, he came up with the idea of talking about and explaining weird medical facts on TikTok. Following him, you can learn about embarrassing things he did as a doctor, weird things patients have said, and even more unusual topics such as — Can cheese give you nightmares?

Dr. Raj believes TikTok is only the next in line of a long-running chain of short format social media platforms. “It started off with just text-based blogs and websites. Then YouTube came, and video started gaining popularity, followed by Instagram, which up until recently offered the shortest format with one-minute videos and well-curated video snaps or picture snapshots. TikTok is showing us that people are busy and want smaller and smaller chunks of valuable information.” It hasn’t been researched yet whether this is impacting attention span of each new generation, it is fair to assume that if consumers spend hours on TikTok they don’t spend time for something else such as book reading and improving their writing skills.” I don’t think anyone can truly answer that yet, but the reality is that we’re flooded with technology and constantly have access to 24/7 Wi-Fi across the globe. I believe TikTok serves to raise awareness about important issues and also helps to inspire the next generations to get into medicine. A lot of my colleagues who are on TikTok, do some of these dancing videos, and I think it’s great. Members of the public, especially young children who may consider a career in medicine as daunting, see doctors smiling, dancing, having fun. I think that’s really inspiring,” says dr. Raj.

In the end, at the moment, TikTok is still largely a platform where one can relax and have fun. And that is ok. Karan Raj: “In the current climate, it just helps to relax people both at home and in the clinical setting. Especially in medicine right now, everyone is riddled with anxiety and stress, especially healthcare workers who are coming face to face with their own mortality. They’re seeing their colleagues die or pass away or being really sick with COVID-19. And TikTok offers stress relief. Just like people listen to music or go to the gym, making a TikTok dancing video is a bit of fun, and I think people shouldn’t be made to feel bad for doing any of that.”

Faces Of Digital Health

Faces of Digital Health (ex Medicine Today on Digital…

Faces Of Digital Health

Faces of Digital Health (ex Medicine Today on Digital Health) is a podcast about digital health, exploring how different healthcare system adopt technologies in healthcare. It’s mission is to share insights for global healthcare improvements.

Tjaša Zajc

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Faces Of Digital Health

Faces of Digital Health (ex Medicine Today on Digital Health) is a podcast about digital health, exploring how different healthcare system adopt technologies in healthcare. It’s mission is to share insights for global healthcare improvements.