Featured Article: “Doctors on TikTok Try to Go Viral” by Emma Goldberg
Doctors and nurses are taking to TikTok to inform young people about a variety of topics including sexual health, vaccines and healthy eating. In this lesson, you will learn about potential benefits and concerns with medical professionals using the video app. Then, you will get to share your opinion about the issue or create a video or written explanation about a science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) or health topic.
Note to Teachers: This lesson plan addresses sexual health. Please preview to make sure it is appropriate for your students.
Brainstorm: When you have a medical question, where do you go first for the answer? What about questions related to sex, puberty, alcohol or drugs? Are you comfortable talking to parents, a school nurse or your pediatrician about those topics? Do you turn to friends or search online for medical answers? How do you know whom or what to trust?
Now, watch this TikTok created by Dr. Danielle Jones, a gynecologist:
Have you seen doctors and nurses on TikTok before? How do you feel about them using the app?
Did you find the videos interesting, funny or informative? Would you share them with a friend?
Do you trust the information in the videos? Why or why not?
Questions for Writing and Discussion
Read the article, then answer the following questions:
1. How does Dr. Danielle Jones view her TikTok presence? How does that compare with your reaction to her video?
2. Why do you think so many TikTok users have viewed videos on vaping-associated lung diseases, the flu and HPV vaccines by Dr. Rose Marie Leslie, a family medicine resident physician? What might that tell you about her primary audience?
3. How has Gregory Justice, TikTok’s head of content programming, responded to the rise in medical professionals using TikTok?
4. Why does Dr. Jones think TikTok “humanizes” doctors? What do you think?
5. What was the response that Dr. Nicole Baldwin, a pediatrician, received after creating TikTok videos about vaccines? How does she think now about such posts?
6. What are some of the downsides to health-related TikToks that Sarah Mojarad, a lecturer, has noticed? Do you share any of her concerns?
7. Dr. Austin Chiang, a gastroenterologist, and Dr. Christian Assad, a cardiologist, both discussed the importance of distinguishing between general education and patient-specific medical advice on the app. Why are they careful to emphasize these boundaries and distinctions?
Share Your Opinion
Discuss with your class or write your response: Do you think that doctors and nurses should use TikTok to share medical information?
What are the advantages and disadvantages to medical professionals using apps like TikTok? Do you think that there are other forms of social media that are better or worse for sharing medical information?
How do you think that apps and individuals can ensure accuracy and professionalism within medical-related social media posts? Do you think there are certain kinds of medical information that should or should not be shared on social media?
Are you more comfortable seeking out medical advice online? Does it make a difference to you about the kind of health information you need? What about getting sexual health information versus getting information about viruses, like the flu?
Create Your Own Informational TikTok
You have read about medical professionals using TikTok and have even watched some of their content. Do you think you can condense detailed and accurate information into a paragraph, tweet or video?
Choose one thing that you know a lot about, either from your own interests or from school. Be sure to cite how you know the information: You could use an article from The Times or another reliable source.
Now, see if you can share that information with your class as a live performance or as a video in 15 seconds, the length of a TikTok. Are you able to share it in an interesting and compelling way? Can you make it funny, but still accurate? Can you adapt a popular song with your own factual lyrics, but ensure the correct information is still conveyed? To test if you succeeded, you may want to ask your classmates what they learned from your performance. Is it what you hoped they would take away and learn?
If you’re interested in expanding your creation, consider turning your video or performance into an engaging 500-word written explanation. And, if you’re 13 to 19 years old, you can submit your explanation to our STEM Writing Contest, which is active now through March 3, 2020. Be sure to read the instructions and rubric before you submit.