Even as TikTok captures the imagination of users and brand teams alike, Instagram remains the birthplace of many social media influencers and their platform of choice. To that point, Instagram has been a favorite of any number of healthcare providers since its inception. More than any other platform, Instagram has been where physicians go to forge their own personal brands — an increasingly important part of practicing medicine during the social-media era.
In the wake of MM+M’s look at the Top 10 Doctor Influencers on TikTok, here are our picks for 12 of their counterparts on Instagram — the physicians most effectively leveraging the platform to burnish their bona fides as healers, educators, artists, diet gurus and more.
The Instagram fame of Russian-born Dr. Mike Varshavski was born when he was still in medical school, as part of a project to show that doctors-to-be could still have active social lives. His early postings — a series of dog photos — quickly expanded into a much-loved mix of medical education, entertainment and fitness.
In 2015, Buzzfeed posted an article about Varshavski’s Instagram feed, succinctly characterized as “a hot doctor and his dog.” Shortly thereafter, People magazine named him the Sexiest Doctor Alive.
Varshavski now counts 4.3 million followers on Instagram and more than 8 million on his YouTube channel – which he refers to as “the land of entertaining, reliable, evidence-based medical information.”
View Dr. Mike Varshavski’s Instagram here.
Well-known from her TLC TV show “Dr. Pimple Popper,” dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee is famous — or perhaps notorious — for up-close videos of pimples being popped. Her followers can’t get enough of them. Lee also posts about skin care, however, breaking down the difference between sebaceous filaments and blackheads and explaining how retinol works.
View Dr. Sandra Lee’s Instagram here.
While Instagram is the land of foodies, Dr. Hazel Wallace uses the platform to break down the science of healthy eating. She’s a big advocate for gut microbiome diversity, the lack of which has been linked to chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes.
Known on social platforms as “the food medic,” Wallace presents meals that may not be part of “diet culture” but are well-rounded and sustainable. She also answers questions about the sugar content of various foodstuffs and lists diet myths to abandon.
View Dr. Hazel Wallace’s Instagram here.
Physicians have been facing high levels of burnout for years, and the situation has only worsened during COVID-19. Enter Dr. Akua Ampadu, who aims to raise awareness about burnout by posting about mindfulness and self-care.
She’s well aware of the toll social media itself can have on mental health, noting in one post that “the social media thing can have you craving so many things others have… To anyone still reading, I ask that you please be mindful and respectful of your body. Monitor what you consume (physically and spiritually) and don’t shrug off anything that doesn’t seem right.”
View Dr. Akua Ampadu’s Instagram here.
As a former NFL player, Dr. Myron Rolle is no stranger to celebrity. But Rolle had dreams beyond playing for the Tennessee Titans, and is now a neurosurgery resident at Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital. On his Instagram, Rolle chronicles his work with the Caribbean Neurosurgery Foundation, an organization aiming to provide research and training funding for neurological surgery in the region.
View Dr. Myron Rolle’s Instagram here.
With more than 65,000 followers, Dr. Jake Taylor is a combination of Instagram model and celebrity physician. A chief urology resident at NYU Langone Health, Taylor’s posts frequently feature him posing around New York City — and, in the process, making scrubs look fashionable. But he also uses the platform to host Instagram Live sessions, during which he explores topics like diabetic health and prostate cancer.
View Dr. Jake Taylor’s Instagram here.
Dr. Nancy Yen Shipley uses her Instagram to highlight women working in medicine, particularly those in traditionally male-dominated specialties. It’s what inspired her to start her podcast “The 6%”; the title referring to the mere 6% of orthopedic surgeons who are women. She also advocates for physicians creating their own brands.
“Branding actually has a role for physicians, whether we’re in clinical practice or working on other facets of our career,” Shipley says in one video. “It’s not just for Apple; it’s not just for Nike. Physicians need to make sure that what they do is on brand, and you can only do that after you figure out what your brand is.”
View Dr. Nancy Yen Shipley’s Instagram here.
Dr. Mike Natter’s Instagram shows off his skills as an artist and cartoonist. He has grown his following to 113,000 by posting his comics, which highlight humorous moments amid the daily grind of physician life. Not surprisingly, Natter isn’t shy about encouraging doctors to explore and develop creative talents beyond medicine.
“I believe it is often these ‘non-traditional’ traits and talents that help make [doctors] valuable,” Natter writes in one post. “More than that, I also feel that these non-medical/non-science aspects of our lives make us better doctors.”
View Dr. Mike Natter’s Instagram here.
As a “dermatologist by day, mommy 24/7,” Dr. Suchismita Paul’s Instagram showcases how she balances family life with work. She also delivers skin care tips to her followers, particularly those with brown skin.
View Dr. Suchismita Paul’s Instagram here.
When he’s not in the operating room as a trauma and acute care surgeon, Dr. Nii-Daarko Darko helps people manage their finances and encourages physicians to explore their talents beyond medicine. “You’re more than just a doctor — take those other talents off the backburner,” one post reads.
Darko is especially passionate about helping med students manage their money, guiding them through refinancing student loans. He also hosts the podcast “Docs Outside the Box.”
View Dr. Nii-Daarko Darko’s Instagram here.
In 2012, Dr. Andrea Tooley started a blog chronicling her experiences in medical school and residency. She traded in that blog for an Instagram with nearly 50,000 followers, where she documents her life as an oculoplastic and orbital surgeon, wife and mother. Tooley is especially enthusiastic about guiding and mentoring ophthalmology students.
View Dr. Andrea Tooley’s Instagram here.
Pediatrician Dr. Risa Hoshino calls herself the #ShotQueen on Instagram — and, as such, is quite vocal about COVID-19 vaccinations, especially among children. She advocates for vaccine confidence, calling out social media influencers and celebrities spreading health misinformation. But she also supports individuals who are “saving lives” by championing vaccines.