Maximizing your platform

TikTok doc: How Muneeb Shah, DO, a.k.a ‘DermDoctor,’ became a top health influencer on social media

TikTok star Muneeb Shah, DO, shares how he balances his busy dermatology career and his social media pursuits.


In this month’s DOs to Know column, we are excited to introduce Muneeb Shah, DO, widely known as the “DermDoctor” on TikTok or as one half of the Doctorly team on YouTube. He is one of the top dermatology influencers on social media today. Dr. Shah, a board-certified dermatologist specializing in medical, cosmetic and procedural dermatology, has amassed an impressive following of over 20 million people across his TikTok, Instagram and YouTube accounts.

Through his engaging, educational and entertaining content, he simplifies complex dermatological concepts, debunks myths and empowers individuals to make informed decisions about their skincare.

Dr. Shah began his academic journey at Hofstra University before pursuing his medical degree at Nova Southeastern University Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He completed his dermatology residency at Campbell University in North Carolina. Today, Dr. Shah enjoys a growing practice in North Carolina and also plays a prominent role in education via social media.

Dr. Shah’s dedication to education and advocacy has earned him widespread recognition, with his expertise featured in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Allure, Cosmopolitan, Vogue and Yahoo News.

Following is an edited Q&A with Dr. Shah, the “DermDoctor” who is revolutionizing skincare one follower at a time!

What initially sparked your interest in medicine?

I applied to medical school because of my genuine love for science. Unlike many others, my motivation wasn’t primarily driven by a desire to help people. I was captivated by the manifestation of biology in humans and the potential for treatment. The science behind it all fascinated me. Following my gut instincts, I chose Florida as my destination, even though I had never been there before. It felt like the right path for me, and it turned out to be where I met my wife.

Initially, I specialized in radiology, as my focus was more on the science rather than patient interaction. However, during my third and fourth years of medical school, and especially during my internship year, I developed a deep connection with patients, their care and their stories. Being involved in their treatment decisions and establishing meaningful connections with them became incredibly important to me. That’s when I realized the patient-centered aspect was essential, leading me to switch to dermatology.

Muneeb Shah, DO

It has been the best career choice. I have so much fun at clinic. Dermatology is a great career; every day I come to work with a great staff, get to remove skin cancers, treat kids with acne, do cosmetic work that improves people’s confidence or make rare diagnoses of internal diseases. It’s very hands-on.

Did going through a year of radiology residency provide any advantages or correlations to your subsequent career in dermatology, despite the stark differences between the two fields?

Radiology and dermatology are indeed vastly different specialties.

In my case, switching from radiology to dermatology provided a unique perspective. Having experienced both fields, I was able to appreciate my decision and feel more satisfied with the path I chose. While there is limited overlap between the two specialties, possessing additional knowledge is never a disadvantage. Although I lost a year due to the transition, my background in radiology proved valuable at times.

What initially inspired you to share your first video on TikTok, and what motivated you to choose social media as a platform to educate the public and pursue it as part of your career?

I was in residency during the midst of the pandemic, and things were relatively slow at the clinic. It was around that time that TikTok was gaining popularity, and I decided to create some videos as a lighthearted joke. To my surprise, the videos I posted on TikTok started going viral independently, even though they began as parodies.

As I continued posting, I ventured into creating educational content, including a video on identifying melanoma and another on my favorite retinols, responding to the inquiries of my growing audience. It soon became apparent that there was a global demand for information on various skin conditions.

The demographics on TikTok were diverse, and I would receive millions of views from countries like Indonesia. People worldwide with acne, acne scars, melasma, pigmentation issues, keratosis pilaris and more would leave comments and messages, expressing how my videos helped them comprehend these topics clearly and easily.

My program director pointed out that while I might see around 30 patients per day throughout my career, I could potentially educate the entire world with just one TikTok video. This conversation led me to be more committed to producing regular and educational content while ensuring ethics, honesty and integrity. As my presence grew, I realized there was a creator economy and various opportunities that stemmed from the platform.

With this in mind, I expanded my reach to YouTube, as I believed there was a lack of reliable information on the platform. I convinced Luke Maxfield, a fellow DO, to join me on YouTube. Our YouTube channel gained traction, along with our presence on Instagram. This process of growth and expansion completely transformed my life and career.

How has your social media success impacted your dermatology practice and professional career?

After completing my residency and joining a dermatology practice, everything took off rapidly. I can say as my social media presence gained traction, it opened doors and opportunities for me. It’s difficult to separate the beginning of my dermatology practice and my role in social media as they happened in tandem.

Because of my social media success, I was able to buy into a practice and experience various related developments. Although these aspects are intertwined, it’s likely that my progress in the medical field would have taken five years longer without my role on social media. The growth of my online presence accelerated my professional career, providing opportunities such as speaking engagements at conferences, consulting roles, committee participation and networking within the field.

How do you think social media has impacted peoples’ understanding of skincare?

Social media has had a significant impact on peoples’ perception of skincare. In the past, platforms like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube tended to create isolated bubbles where individuals were exposed to specific groups, celebrities or influencers who promoted natural remedies, supplements, expensive products and unverified skincare hacks. There was little accountability or professional input, leading to widespread misinformation.

However, TikTok brought a change by introducing features like tagging, duets and stitches. This allowed for greater accountability and real-time responses to dangerous misinformation. Dermatologists and professionals could directly address viral trends and debunk misinformation, leading to a more informed audience.

Previously, when trends went viral on platforms like Instagram, TikTok or YouTube, professionals would often criticize them in external media outlets. Now, with professionals actively debunking misinformation on social media platforms in real-time, users can access accurate information directly from the source.

You are also very involved in professional societies and committees and recently participated in a White House roundtable discussion on social media. Can you tell us more about your work in these areas?

These engagements primarily involve frequent meetings to discuss health information circulating on social media platforms. For instance, during the social media roundtable, one of the objectives was to address mental health emergencies and provide an alternative number for individuals to call instead of 911. The aim was to avoid situations where the involvement of law enforcement could escalate events and potentially lead to violence. By joining forces with social media personalities and professionals, we were able to amplify this campaign by sharing it on our respective platforms.

Additionally, my involvement in various dermatology-related committees allows for discussions on how dermatologists can utilize social media to provide accurate information to patients, combat misinformation and showcase our expertise.

What are your future goals and plans? Do you intend to continue your presence on social media, practice in the clinic or explore other avenues?

Having multiple sources of income, including social media and clinic practice, has given me an incredible sense of freedom. However, dermatology is my passion, so I will always continue practicing in the clinic.

Regarding social media, my primary goal is to continue growing my platforms and educational content. We recently launched a podcast and published a book, and there are a few exciting projects in the works, slated for release within the next year or two, though I can’t share details just yet. I also hope to support and promote other dermatologists on social media, empowering others to shine.

Simultaneously, I aim to expand our practice by opening additional offices. Our current office is the only dermatology practice in the area that accepts Medicaid, and I’m passionate about increasing access to high-quality care for low-income patients.

Overall, my goal is to continue making a positive impact.

What advice would you give to medical students who are uncertain or hesitant about applying to competitive residency programs?

My advice would be to work hard and make the most of every opportunity that comes your way. Regardless of your doubts or uncertainties, always give your best effort in everything you do. This mindset will pay off in the long run.

Seize every opportunity that comes your way, even if it seems unrelated or uncertain at the time. You never know where these experiences will lead you. Put yourself out there, network and maintain positive relationships with your colleagues and mentors. Medicine is still a remarkable field, despite its challenges. By staying creative and embracing new possibilities, you can make a meaningful impact and help a lot of people.

Editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of The DO or the AOA.

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