Meet the Medical Student Challenging Racial Bias with TikTok

Meet the Medical Student Challenging Racial Bias with TikTok


Joel Bervell: If you feel that you are not being heard, you can choose to see another doctor.

Here are five things to do if you don’t feel heard at the doctor’s office.

When I think back to why I started TikTok, COVID was a hit around two years ago when my second year of medical school was over. I had plenty of time to think about the world. Black Lives Matter. George Floyd protests were ongoing. I heard about Breonna Taylor’s story and Ahmaud Abery’s, who were hunted down and killed by people.

He was also the same age as me.

As a Black medical student in a field with less than 5% Black physicians, I began to wonder what I could do to use my voice to talk about these issues in a unique way.

I was tired of sitting idly by.

My medical school, Washington State University, was the first to admit a Black student. I feel like I have asked questions in my own classroom that none of my peers would have.

So I began making TikToks about things I didn’t learn in school.

Number two, if possible, go in with another person. If that is not possible, you can always go in with someone else. If you are unable to do so, call someone. You can also record the conversation to save it for later.

Joel Bervell is my name. I am a fourth-year medical student. However, I am better known as the medical myth buster on social media.

I’m now looking at my TikTok ideas calendar. It’s my basically every idea, I write it down to keep it in my mind.

My grandma was my primary caretaker during my childhood. She didn’t even speak English.

She ended up returning to Ghana, West Africa, when she was in seventh grade. She contracted malaria while she was there.

She was told by the nurses that she should bring her own material, including tubing and IVs. However, she didn’t know this.

Unfortunately, her death was due to these delays in her care.

This was the moment I realized there were health disparities. We can see that there is so much research in the medical field. Unfortunately, these are locked behind paywalls, making it difficult to access.

Even if you have access to the study, you may not be able to understand its meaning.

My job is to take complex studies and put them into 30-60 second videos that people can use to advocate for themselves in the doctor’s office. That’s the beginning.

One of my first Tiktoks was about pulse oximeters.

Pulse oximeters are not able to treat all skin types equally. These devices are worn on the finger and measure blood oxygen saturation.

However, pulse oximeters have not been shown to work as well in darker skin tones. This video went viral.

The comments came from doctors, nurses, and PAs who said that they had never heard of it before.

Someone reached out to me to tell me that my TikTok may have saved their lives.

From there, I have continued to expose things that should have been taught in medical schools but have not been learning.

Meet Elena Wicker. Elena Wicker will be ten years older than the average medical student.

A terrifying government radiation experiment at five years old left this man with a hole in the head.

Welcome back to hidden medical history. Let’s discuss the little-known story of Vertus Hartiman.

In my videos, I often talk about how history is important for understanding the current medical system. Too often, conversations that specifically relate to communities of colour have been left out.

When we think about implicit bias, we must realize that everyone has biases which will impact how they view a patient or perceive someone differently.

To mitigate these biases, however, it is important to understand them.

You can stretch all the way back. These false beliefs are perpetuated by the medical system.

Trichotillomania was actually an illness in which slaves ran away and had to be whipped to get rid of it.

Despite this belief, some people still believe that Black patients feel less pain, that their skin is thicker, or that they have fewer nerve endings.

Recent research was conducted. Nearly half of those who responded to a survey believed at least one false belief regarding Black patients.

It’s complex, I believe. It has to do with history. It is related to resources. It is related to what we currently have access to.

The Flexner report is something that I am very interested in. The 1910 report, the Flexner report, was completed. It was commissioned by the American Medical Association, which asked Abraham Flexner to visit all of the United States medical schools and examine how they were run.

What happened was that almost all schools that trained women were closed, as well as almost all schools that trained minority doctors.

That meant that for more than 50 years, there weren’t any doctors who were women or minorities trained to be doctors.

It wasn’t until after the Civil Rights Act did it require that medical schools accept people who are not white.

Rachel Bervell: It’s important to talk about the areas where medicine as we practice it has failed. We don’t prioritize the public health work being done or the chance to go through all of these processes.

Imagine that COVID and monkeypox were the most recent examples of public health emergencies.

We are glad to meet you.

Joel Bervell: You can have fun tomorrow at school, yup.

Rachel Bervell: Oh, I will.

Joel Bervell: Unfortunately, the medical system can be expensive. Medical school can cost you more than $200,000. Medical students typically spend $5,000 to apply to medical school. There is no guarantee that they will be accepted.

When you consider how long it takes, that is basically a generation that is not being able go into medicine.

It is difficult to find mentors who will help you get there. I’ve had many conversations with friends who thought they should be doctors but didn’t because someone told them otherwise. These are the experiences I’ve had in my own life. Without mentors who spoke to and instilled confidence in me, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Amiethab A. AiyerLike, where are your friends? [inaudible]Fast forward to now, and we were doing like a lot of our webinars. Then, at some point in October, I guess that I’m that year. [inaudible].

Joel Bervell: What is the average work day? My average workday is 14 hours. I have many projects I am working on right now. I am always looking for the best way to make information available.

Working with the White House is one of my current activities. I am also working with World Health Organization to dispel online misinformation and medical disinformation.

I have been working with the surgeon-general’s office. It was really fun to record a video with Dr. Vivek Muthy.

Right now, I’m trying to work on a TV series…

There is an amazing movement happening right now to help the next generation reimagine medicine.

This means that we must ensure that communities not discussed are included in our curriculum. I believe dermatology images are becoming more diverse. I believe we are talking about race-based medical practices and why we use them. Now, we’re focusing on medical devices and how they can read and interpret different skin tones.

Artificial intelligence is what we’re referring to and how A.I. works. Based on the algorithm that’s been fed, people are treated differently.

Some people might say I’m an influencer, or a changemaker, but I believe education is the core of everything I do. Teaching has always been a passion of mine. I have always enjoyed sharing knowledge. That’s what I really want to do, which is take the things that interest me and give it to others so they can understand it and use it to improve their health.

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