Social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram have become hugely popular in recent years — and, in the process, have given medical professionals new and effective ways to communicate with patients and the general public. But YouTube remains a social-media stronghold for medical professionals who create longer videos that delve more deeply into science and health information.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, YouTube has sought to elevate credible health information as well as crack down on anti-vax posts and health misinformation. Last year, it implemented safeguards designed to prioritize credible health information from authoritative sources like hospitals, state health departments and universities.
That’s why we urge you to give the so-called YouTube doctors your attention and respect: Commanding a wide audience while making medicine more accessible, and remaining accurate in the process, is no easy task. In that spirit, here are our picks for 10 top physician influencers on YouTube.
British cardiologist Dr. Rohin Francis’ YouTube videos are quick, witty and entertaining. He’s equally comfortable explaining the science and history behind xenotransplantation and the first pig-to-human heart transplant, and vlogging about his night shifts as a cardiologist during the first wave of COVID-19. His most recent video delves into science and medicine in space during a zero-gravity parabolic flight.
Active on YouTube since 2017, Francis gained popularity when one of his videos, “Cyclists’ hearts: Can you be so fit that you die?,” went viral and eventually accumulated more than 2 million views. But it was only at the start of the pandemic that he got more serious about content creation, producing videos that delved into topics such as systemic racism in science and medicine.
Dr. Kevin Jubbal is the man behind the YouTube channel Med School Insiders, which has more than 1.4 million subscribers. The channel provides tips on everything from the perks and drawbacks of different medical specialties to reading faster and improving memorization.
But Jubbal has a personal YouTube channel as well, where he discusses issues like the increasing number of doctors leaving the profession. He’s also known to test-drive new technologies (like the Apple Watch Series 4 ECG/EKG function) or compare standing desks to treadmill ones. And he draws on his med school experience to explain how to improve productivity and focus.
Doctor Raga is a third-year general surgery resident who posts day-in-the-life videos for a variety of specialties, including neurosurgery, urology and pediatric surgery. Outlining her daily and weekly schedules, she depicts the life of a surgeon inside and outside the hospital, from her morning coffee all the way through her 30 hours on call.
Dr. Ed Hope envisioned Dr. Hope’s Sick Notes as a light-hearted place to teach average viewers about the medical world. As an emergency medicine doctor and teaching fellow, his “doctor reacts to…” movie and TV scene videos, like injuries in horror movies, are humorous and playful. But Hope also veers into more serious discussions: he vlogged extensively during a recent COVID-19 surge in the U.K.
Hope notes that he previously worked in advertising and music, and endeavors to translate those communication skills to his medical content. “One thing I remember is how doctors seem to speak a different language and the world of medicine seemed so difficult to get any insight into, which is a bit of a shame really,” he wrote, “Because your body is the greatest instrument you’ll ever own and you may have some of the most life-changing moments in the hospital.”
One of the most popular doctors on the Internet, Dr. Mike Varshavski — known simply as Doctor Mike — boasts more than 9 million subscribers on his YouTube channel, where he has posted regularly since 2017. Doctor Mike attempts to post every few days, which may have something to do with the huge view counts he regularly runs up.
Dr. Helene is an emergency medicine resident who provides an uplifting, down-to-earth perspective on med school and the life of a doctor. Many of her videos are geared towards people interested in becoming physicians, including content around affordable scrub brands, getting into med school from community college or chronicling the paths of people who became doctors after originally not getting into med school. On occasion, she features her cat, Ollie.
Dr. Helene’s YouTube platform, she writes, “Aims to showcase my medical journey through vlogs, inspire and encourage those also taking on this long and challenging career path, and provide honesty about being a Black female physician.”
In one video, she brings together a group of her med school classmates — now residents — who break down their experiences at historically Black colleges and universities, including the Morehouse School of Medicine. In a series of videos dubbed “Doc Talk,” she speaks with other doctors about how they match into certain specialties, like OB/GYN or anesthesiology.
Pulmonary critical care physician Dr. Cedric Jamie Rutland’s YouTube channel is devoid of “haughty medical terms that require a dictionary to comprehend,” as he puts it, and instead provides “laid-back deconstructed medicine.” Given his background — he’s also a national medical spokesperson for the American Lung Association — it’s not surprising to see him break down the most recent COVID news via explainer videos on everything from the Omicron variant to ‘flurona.’
Dr. Joseph Allen has accumulated more than 600,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel, which focuses specifically on vision and eye health. There, he reviews different eye products while simultaneously attempting to educate people about how their eyes work and how eye diseases are treated.
With more than a million subscribers on her YouTube channel, which she characterizes as “Monday morning edu-tainment,” Dr. Danielle Jones surveys a range of OB/GYN topics and backs them up with references to peer-reviewed studies and data. In one video, she reviews a Buzzfeed article that outlines 10 pregnancy warnings people wished they knew about before getting pregnant — pointing to the information that’s accurate, then fact-checking the parts that aren’t. In another, she takes 10 minutes to explain why COVID-19 vaccination is safe and effective for pregnant women.
As skin-care routines have gained in popularity, dermatologists have attracted avid followers on YouTube and TikTok for their thoughts on products and medically approved ways to address skin issues. With more than 1.5 million subscribers, Dr. Dray’s YouTube channel is a treasure trove of skin-care tips, with new videos debuting nearly every day. A dermatologist, Dr. Dray also offers explainer videos on aging and its effects on skin health.