TikTok and the Med Student Community 

TikTok and the Med Student Community 

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped how we interact with the world. One of the most significant behavioral changes I have noticed since the pandemic is that social interaction through the internet has been encouraged more now than ever before.

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TikTok and the Med Student Community 
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Shennell Ramsay

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May 2, 2023

This article will discuss how TikTok has fostered the development of an online community for medical students and has given us a voice.

Origins of Tiktok 

The amount of time we spend on the internet since the beginning of the pandemic is often not seen as a bad habit but rather a necessity to maintain our social networks, jobs, education, and mental wellbeing. Innovation often arises through necessity and difficulties. One thing that seems to have arisen in recent years is TikTok. 

But, in all honesty, it existed before most of us would have known it as what it is today. 

TikTok was released by developer Bythedance in some parts of the world as early as 2017, but it wasn’t until the developers acquired musical.ly in 2018 that it was available worldwide. Then, in 2020, TikTok became the world’s most downloaded app and is still supreme, according to digital analytical reports (Frederick, 2022). 

How Has Tiktok Fostered the Growth of a Community?

Currently, the TikTok hashtag “#medschool” has over 3 billion views, with various videos ranging from hilarious to informative. However, the volume of videos is not what truly stands out to me. Instead, it is the common denominators of relatability and relevance. 

Okay, now let me set the stage for why I view these two denominators as integral parts of the medical student niche.

When you open the app, you land on the For You Page, which for those of us that are chronically online would refer to as the fyp and the rest of us would know as the home page. Once you have used the app a couple of times, it will often seem like the videos are so related to your day-to-day activities, inner thoughts, interests, and sense of humor that it may feel tailored to you. If you have ever felt that way, you are right! It is tailored to you. 

According to an article from Kumar (2022), the TikTok algorithm was built upon an interest graph concept which works by using your interests and content to interact with, then associating and connecting you with other users who share those interests. Their artificial intelligence (AI) constantly evolves as we passively scroll, and it reworks itself based on our likes and dislikes. Furthermore, since TikTok utilizes short-form videos, it can quickly recalibrate your fyp with your ever-changing interests. 

Most other social media platforms use a “social graph”. This works by connecting users with persons they might know or have a relation to (no matter how slight that relation may be) because it works under the assumption that these users have similar interests. 

This is why it often feels like we fall into a deep neverending rabbit hole on the TikTok home page, while on many other platforms, once you have scrolled long enough, you will notice that you are completely up to date, and though the rabbit hole exists it is not endless. Although that could pose a problem when you need to read the Lecturio Concept Page for your lecture tomorrow, it is the same differentiating factor that allows you to feel seen, heard, and understood when you see people having similar thoughts, realizations, and experiences as you are having in medical school. 

This ties into my initial point that the common denominators among the videos are relatability and relevance. I say this because the creators are of all different races, genders, and nationalities, and they speak various languages. Still, most can garner views from the fact that their content will land on the fyp of someone that may find it relatable or relevant. 

How Has It Given Medical Students a Voice?

Often, social media platforms can feel like high school because only popular people can have their voices heard, while the content of those with few to no followers enters the “void”. 

However, the likelihood of the content and comments of people without a sizable following receiving interaction on TikTok is higher than it is on many other platforms. This is because the follower count of a creator is not a major determining factor in whether videos are placed on the fyp of other users. When content is posted, it is not only shared with persons who follow each other. 

Consequently, we can speak on issues directly relevant to our community, giving a voice to students with many underrepresented intersectionalities.

What Are the Benefits of the Medical School Niche?

TikTok combats loneliness and other negative emotions 

We have all had rough days during medical school when we might even feel like giving up. However, I have had several instances where I have found out how others are dealing with the same struggle I face when I go to school. It not only provides me with direction but it gives me a sense of belonging and reduces feelings of helplessness. 

With that said, given that TikTok grew during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been a time of social distancing, isolation, quarantines, and lockdowns, many students might not have a network of people they can speak to. So by having the medical student community on TikTok, people can see that their experiences and struggles are not unique and it can provide a sense of normalcy. 

TikTok has helpful tips and educational resources

If you are anything like me, you have learnt so many random hacks, tricks, and tips from TikTok that you did not know you needed to know. The medical school niche is no different! There are millions of videos of medical students and doctors giving tips on acing medical school, tackling complex topics, and just random bits of useful information. 

This is an excellent opportunity to “shamelessly plug” the Lecturio official TikTok account because we post great information. 

Recommended TikTokers

Abis_anatomy 

She is a third-year medical student on a leave of absence due to personal struggles that she is candid about and might be relatable to many people.

Nicklongson 

He is a medical student and my go-to for tips and funny, relatable skits.

Shonnamissymehd

She is an anesthesia resident. In addition, she makes informational videos for medical students, residents, and aspiring medical students. 

Doctoryoun

He is a plastic surgeon, and his content is super interesting, especially if you enjoy content about cosmetic enhancements.

Final Thoughts

As I said before, innovation often appears through necessity and difficulties. The world has been through a lot, so there has been a need for making connections and having lighthearted fun, and TikTok has allowed us to do so easily. 

Although there have been many online medical student communities, ranging from Sub-Reddits to niche Tumblr blogs (Studyblr/Medblr community), TikTok is a welcome addition. I am so happy to see it giving a voice to the “voiceless”.

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