While scrolling through various social media apps on my smartphone one day, I came across numerous medical Instagram posts: medical students in their white coats, motivational posts about getting through med school, and the importance of a holistic approach in medicine. I realized that osteopathic medical students and physicians managed several of these accounts—accounts that boast thousands of followers—and I recognized that Instagram is a powerful tool that can be used to promote the osteopathic medical profession.
I started blogging during my psychiatry residency five years ago, but I tried my best to conceal my identity out of fear of judgment by my peers and supervisors, along with concerns about privacy and disclosure as a medical professional. But my Instagram account is now public, and I find it comforting—and impressive—that so many DOs and students are publicly demonstrating their pride in osteopathic medicine so early on in their training.
Showcasing the differences and similarities between DOs and MDs is one of the reasons Ashley Peterson, OMS I, joined Instagram and created her account @dailymedicineblog.
“Promoting myself as a DO student on social media has been nothing but positive,” says Peterson, who attends Georgia Campus-Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Suwanee. “People email and direct message me almost daily asking what it’s like to be in DO school, and if they can be mentored or receive some advice about the application process.”
Instagram provides a platform where you can share your views. Shannon Tosounian, DO, uses her account @shanny_do to share information on health and wellness with her 6,000-plus followers. Dr. Tosounian’s past posts about DO Day on the Hill sparked interest in premeds, she notes.
“I started getting lots of emails from students interested in learning more about the osteopathic approach because my post made them more aware that the osteopathic philosophy aligned with their beliefs,” she says.
Launched last year, the AOA’s osteopathic medicine awareness campaign provides specific messaging DOs and students can use on social media to promote osteopathic medicine. Seeing the campaign ads in various magazines motivated Peterson to emphasize her pride as a DO student in her posts, she says.
“It’s inspiring that there’s a movement happening,” she says. “I want to be a part of it, whether on social media or in person.”
Get involved: Instagram tips
To get involved with promoting the osteopathic medical profession on Instagram, the following are some tips and best practices for posting:
- Keep your account professional. Remember that you are not only representing yourself, but also the profession.
- Only post content that you wouldn’t mind the public knowing. Physicians/future physicians are viewed as leaders, so keep in mind that your posts should model appropriate behaviors and practices.
- Post informative content about osteopathic medicine. By connecting with people on social media, I’ve learned that many of them want to understand the differences between osteopathic and allopathic medicine. View your posts as an opportunity to educate and raise awareness.
- Be authentic. Followers develop a sense of trust when they feel connected with you. Several accounts model not only the whole-person approach to care, but also show how nutrition, exercise, hobbies, etc, are part of our lifestyle as medical professionals.
- Use hashtags pertaining to osteopathic medicine such as the following: #osteopathic #osteopathicmedicine #DoctorsThatDO #ProudDO #futureDO.
- Follow the AOA on Instagram @aoafordos and tag the account in your posts.
- View examples of how Peterson, Dr. Tosounian, and myself are promoting osteopathic medicine on our respective Instagram accounts: @dailymedicineblog, @shanny_do, and @freudandfashion.