Starting medical school can be a long, overwhelming process. Adding a global pandemic to that creates an isolating and difficult experience. A Baylor College of Medicine student took advantage of her time studying and learning remotely to help others learn about the medical school process – all through the screen of her phone.
First-year medical student Amanda Braddock created her TikTok account to watch videos. She occasionally posted videos as well but assumed few people would see them, as her friends were her main followers. When she started medical school in August 2020, she posted a few medical school-related videos, which garnered a lot of attention, eventually leading to TikTok users frequently asking her about the medical school process. She now has 23,000 followers.
“Ever since those videos started getting a lot of views, my goal was to be transparent but also positive. I answer questions because I like helping,” she said.
Those who follow Braddock on the platform appreciate her personal, organic content. Unlike many internet personalities, she creates videos and posts them without a set content schedule or editing tools. There is no structure around posting – she posts videos when she thinks of something interesting or if she wants to give her followers updates.
“There are a few med school influencers, and when I watched them, I’d get stressed out, because they would just talk about how much studying they had to do. It almost seemed as if they were bragging about how miserable they were, and when I was pre-med, it really turned me off, so I avoided those things because it made me anxious,” Braddock said. “When I make videos, I’m honest. I’ll make a video if I’m overwhelmed, but I also share the things I do for fun and how I’m able to make a schedule that gives me personal time. The goal was just to make med school less scary and not gatekeeping it. People are afraid of it, and it isn’t as scary as it sounds.”
Scrolling through her page, you will find that she answers very detailed questions and gives advice on the best ways to navigate medical school from personal experience. Whether she’s suggesting what type of computer to use for lectures or how to study for exams, those curious about medical school can learn from her meticulous but short videos. Braddock aims to answer interesting questions that people don’t often discuss or questions she had when she was applying to medical school, such as questions about scheduling or grading. She strives to be open about it all and not hide any information.
“I love helping and calming fears – that’s what I needed when I was in that position. Some of the best comments I get are, ‘You make me less scared to be in medical school’ or ‘Your videos take away a lot of my stress,’ and that makes me feel good. Everyone could use that, especially right now,” she said.
In a time of heightened misinformation and a lack of trust in science, Braddock is aware of the controversy that comes with social media. She strays away from giving medical advice and reminds her followers that she is not yet a doctor. When people ask for medical advice, she suggests speaking with professionals on the matter.
“I’ll make a video when something in class comes up, like if we’re learning about vaccines. I’ll say, ‘This is what I’m learning about,’ and I have the scientific information to share. If people comment with things that aren’t true, I’m quick to point it out so that the people reading the comments don’t read something false,” Braddock said. “It’s hard on social media right now because no matter what you say, people aren’t willing to trust science. You have to find that balance between wanting to correct them and not letting that misinformation grow without coming off as mean or hateful.”
Braddock does not hesitate to post videos about her personal life, which makes her even more relatable. She gives her followers a glimpse of her normal life by discussing her family and experiences with anxiety. She dives in on anxiety and how she has dealt with it before and throughout medical school.
“I think it’s good for people to be open about that stuff because it’s often not talked about. I don’t mind discussing it at all, and I don’t think having anxiety should be a red flag,” she said.
Her dedication and selflessness foreshadow the type of doctor she will be in the future. Braddock truly cares and enjoys helping others. Although she has a few years until officially becoming a doctor, she helps current and prospective students online the way many professionals assist their patients: with honesty and care. She maintains realness and relatability. She remains close to her followers, and they even feel like they’re on a FaceTime call with her when she shares videos.
“My favorite part of it all is when people comment on my videos telling me they just got into medical school or that they’re taking the MCAT and are watching my videos to relax themselves. Getting to share in other people’s joy and seeing that they think of me to tell me that make me feel like I’m encouraging people and bringing peace when it comes to the medical school process,” she said.
By Homa Shalchi