White lab coats in their current use and “look” have been around for a couple hundred years. Having said that, they’ve really only been in common use (from examination rooms to lecture halls to laboratories) since the early 1900s.
Realistically, that’s a blip on the timeline of humanity. But for as long as any of us has been around, lab coats have been a symbol of status, knowledge and influence.
Now…let’s take a look at that word, “influence.”
When a doctor comes into the consultation room, eyes follow. Nurses and patients wait for instruction, sometimes with baited-breath.
Or, how about when a lab-coat-wearing professor steps onto a stage? The lecture hall precipitously falls silent.
And, dare we say it, thanks to the intelligence and dedication we associate with all the studies required for professionals that dress in lab coats, seeing someone put one on in the morning can even be…sexy.
Yes, we’re attracted to influencers. But we don’t just mean in the Cupidic way.
An overall attraction (or respect, or liking) to these influencers is part of the reason why they have influence over us in the first place, after all.
Today, we’re going to talk about influence, but on the digital spectrum where “influencer” has taken on a new definition.
Who are medical and scientific influencers online?
There is a world online of “influencers,” or those people or entities with tens or hundreds of thousands—up to millions—of followers on their social media accounts.
An influencer, in today’s digital definition, is someone with so many followers and fans that their message gets consumed by enormous numbers of people. Each post is seen by hundreds, thousands or millions of people.
Influencers’ content frequently goes viral, and their voices are invariably heard.
Influencers come in every form, from Insta-savvy teens to camera-genic YouTube stars, along with every other social platform and its respective type of media. Some of these influencers have marketing backgrounds, but some arrive to the scene equipped with nothing “special” other than the chutzpah to produce the content that sent them viral in the first place.
At least, that’s what people normally think of when they think of influencers.
And it’s true—but influencers aren’t only the cheeky content producers who talk about life in general or do funny things on tape. More than anything, there are topic-specific influencers.
Each industry and corner of the market has influencers, but generally you have to be in the industry to know about them. When it comes to medical practitioners, scientific research and even the schooling to get there, there are influencers in our space who are highly-specialized and great to tap into for information, insight and advice.
Intelligence and scientific rigor have always been admired. But in the recent waves of nerdiness being seen as “cool,” with our previously-conceived social hierarchy thrown entirely on its head in the space of a generation, the new influence that a lab-coat wearing doctor or professor commands is now more than just respect. Now (especially with the voice of so many scientifically or medically-trained influencers online), lab coat influencers are downright cool.
We’re all about following these folks. Most of them talk about life on top of their respective fields, because that’s how their reality is. These people bring perspective in with advice, and their content comes highly recommended by Dr-James.
Influencers for people pursuing MD and PA school
It makes sense that there are a lot of younger influencers out there. Even in this niche, many influencers talking to med and PA students weren’t students long ago, themselves (or even still are).
This reality of younger influencers is two-fold. First, when we talk about these influencers, we’re generally talking about digital natives—people who have gone at least through adolescence with texting, the internet and the rest. Of course they’ll have an easier time recording videos, snapping photos and loading them to the web!
Furthermore, platforms like YouTube in particular (where 3.5 billion questions are asked in search every day) are great for these young influencers to reach out to others they can help, because young students are online and on YouTube already.
These influencers have gained popularity because they’ve met their audience where they’re at, emotionally and physically with content a click away.
Let’s take a look at some of the coolest (or nerdiest, or smartest, or most esteemed...you pick) influencers who speak to key lab-coat wearing audiences—namely med students and PA students—who today are looking to the web for guidance.
Antonio J. Webb, M.D.
Antonio J. Webb, MD is a chief resident in orthopedic surgery. He’s a combat veteran and author, and—unsurprisingly—a motivational speaker. He clearly has the experiences that have given him something to say.
Dr. Webb grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana where drugs and gang violence were around him every day. He talks about losing friends and family to violence or to jail sentences, including his younger brother who was sentenced to a juvenile life sentence. His mother was in and out of jail for drug-offenses, too, throughout Dr. Webb’s childhood.
But his journey was miraculous. His arduous environment pushed him harder, further, faster, and in his book “Overcoming the Odds” he details his journey form that Shreveport environment to the career that professionally defines him today.
Dr. Webb has been on YouTube since 2014 and has had 4,509,945 views as of the time of this article. Here’s one of our favorite videos by Dr. Webb where he talks to an audience about never giving up.
Adanna The PA
Adanna the PA is a Physician Assistant who documented her journey to becoming a PA and has since been posting about working in the field and her work-life balance. She started by sharing information about the career, PA studies, and life in generally as she made her way through the arduous process. She’s candid that these experiences are her own, but tens of thousands of viewers have been able to relate.
Adanna also posts popular content to her Instagram and other social pages, including her website where she brings loose ends together and does everything to be informative as well as engaging. She also encourages viewers to explore the APPA for more information about becoming a Physical Assistant.
Adanna has been on YouTube since 2017 and has already had 729,364 video views. Our favorite video of hers is about the much-anticipated white coat ceremony.
Dr. Andrea Tooley is a fellow in ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery in New York City. She completed her residency at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Dr. Tooley clearly loves talking about med school. She’s loaded video after video to help guide others and to do a little “reflecting out loud” on her own experience studying through pre-med and getting through med school in one piece.
She says she enjoyed the journey to become a physician, and the sincerity shows in her videos. She’s made it her goal to create a YouTube channel where med students with interests in all specialties can come and learn. She does interviews and posts answers to specific questions.
Her blog is loaded with great information, too, but we’re particularly fond of her YouTube channel. Dr. Tooley’s been on YouTube since 2012 and has had 4,210,018 video views. In one of our favorite recent videos of hers, she talks about choices female practitioners make with their “look,” which is a reality that’s not altogether insurmountable anymore for women entering medicine.
James Kim is in his mid-20s and is an influencer to be reckoned with. He’s all-things-positive and barreling through his second year as a physician assistant student with nothing but forward-movement on his mind. In his words, he describes his blood type as “be positive.”
James shares PA, college, lifestyle and motivational videos to get good information to the people who are looking and to help their hard days go down easier. He’s all about his studies, but he wants to live a balanced lifestyle, and it’s his goal to help others do the same along the way.
His website is also filled with videos, posts and information, but—once again—we’re fans of the video question-and-answer style of YouTube. James has been on YouTube since 2016 and already has 759,038 video views. We particularly love this video he posted shortly into the second week of rotations in clinicals.
Med School Insiders
We’ve been talking about individual influencers, but there are organizations out there to help med students, too. Med School Insiders is one of our favorites, with their high-yield tips and advice on pretty much everything that has to do with pursuing a career in medicine.
The videos are high-quality with loads of animations and a stylized look, and are narrated by Dr. Kevin Jubbal M.D., who is a recent med school graduate himself.
These videos serve as resources to not only influence but empower future doctors with the tools to live their best, professionally and personally.
The Med School Insiders channel has been up on YouTube since 2016 and has had more than 20,342,211 video views. Wow.
We particularly liked their recent video of 4 things you should know before starting med school.
Influencers for pharm students
Pharm students aren’t always the first to get attention as lab coat wearers. But the fact of the matter is that this is another profession requiring a lot of rigorous education, and that it is equally ceremonious for a pharm student to don the white coat for the first time.
There are some extremely engaging influencers out there who are either students, recent grads or practicing pharmacists with a lot to say to anyone entering this field of study. We’d like to highlight some of our favorites.
Paul Tran Pharmacist
Paul’s a pharmacist, but he posts videos, blogs, FAQs and content all over about life tips and finance on top of pharmacy school and actually working as a pharmacist.
Paul studied at Washing State University for his Bachelors in biological sciences and took care of pharmacy school at the University of Washington (PharmD). And he’s been quick to pack-on the experience since then, working in inpatient hospital and long-term care.
Paul has been educating and influencing on YouTube since 2012 and has already had 1,262,447 video views at the time of this article. You can see his blog, too, where he offers tips you’ll be grateful you came across. Our favorite recent video of Paul’s talks about being an Amazon pharmacist, starting first with the question of whether he should even become an Amazon pharmacist.
Mimi Win is a pharmacy student who documents her daily life. You’ll see a lot of pharm school, but there are also her tasty eats and many adventures to follow. Mimi is sincere, charismatic and transparent, and can help future pharmacy students picture themselves in the act, and current students get through the grind.
Each of Mimi’s videos has some between-the-lines insight or advice. She’s been on YouTube since 2016, and has already had 156,682 video views. Our personal favorite of hers is “A day in the life of a pharm student.”
Pharm students still have personal lives, right? Peyton is all about that reality, and created the Alyssa Marie channel to talk about beauty and lifestyle while continuing her way through pharm school (and vlogging about it along the way).
Peyton created this lifestyle and pharmacy channel back in 2015 and has had 152,509 video views to-date. Our favorite recent video of hers was about writing your personal statement, a feat which pharmacy students, med students and future PAs can all get something from.
Why you should follow these influencers
You get the point. These people are out there because they have something to say. And, let’s be honest, not only is their experience valuable to those who are on similar paths, but that designer lab coat commands respect. For those who wear one, people will listen.
These are our favorite kinds of influencers. They rock the status symbol that is the white coat and the academic and professional merits behind it. Keep your eye on our blog for another article about nursing influencers, and one later about lab-coat-wearing influencers of fiction and past.