Meet the Medical Student Challenging Racial Bias with TikTok


Joel Bervel: If you feel unheard, you have the freedom to choose another doctor.

Here are five tips on what to do if you don’t feel like your voice is being heard when you go to the doctor’s office.

When I look back on why I started TikTok, about two years ago when I was a sophomore in medical school, COVID took a hit and I had a lot of time to think to myself about what was going on in the world. . Black Lives Matter. Ongoing George Floyd protests. I’ve been hearing stories like Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery being caught and killed by humans.

And he was the same age as me.

Seeing myself also as a Black medical student in a field where less than 5% of all doctors are Black, I started thinking about what I could really do to use my voice and talk about these issues in a unique way.

I didn’t want to sit idly by anymore.

I was the first Black medical student at Washington State University in my medical school. I feel like I asked questions in my own class that I knew none of my other peers would ask.

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

Second, date someone else if you can. If you can’t do this, have it… Number two, date someone else if you can. If you can’t, be sure to call someone. Or save the conversation for later.

My name is Joel Bervell. I’m a fourth-year medical student, but I’m more known on social media as a medical myth buster.

So I’m currently looking at my TikTok idea calendar. Basically like me, whenever I have an idea, I try to write it down so I remember it.

So for most of my upbringing, my grandmother was my main caregiver while my parents were away. But he didn’t know any English.

When I started secondary school in the seventh grade, he moved back to Ghana in West Africa. While there, he unfortunately contracted malaria.

When he was taken to the hospital, they told him he had to bring his own supplies, tubes and serums, but he had no idea.

And these delays in care unfortunately led to his death.

That was the first time I saw health disparities. When we look at the medical field right now, there is so much research emerging, but unfortunately, it is locked behind paywalls and difficult to access.

And even if you can access it, sometimes you can’t understand what the real work is saying.

I see my job as doing complex reviews and putting them into 30 to 60 second videos that people can really defend in the doctor’s office. This is the beginning.

One of the first Tiktoks I made was about pulse oximeters.

Pulse oximeters do not process all skin tones equally. Which are these devices worn on your finger and they measure the oxygen saturation level of your blood.

However, pulse oximeters have been shown to not work equally well on darker skin tones, and this video went viral.

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

And then someone reached out to me saying that my TikTok may have saved their life.

And from there, I continued to disclose things that should have been taught in medical school but were not learned.

Meet Elena Wicker. He will be ten years younger than the average incoming medical student.

This man was living with a hole in his head at the age of five due to a horrific government radiation experiment.

Welcome back to the hidden medical history. Let’s talk about the little-known story of Vertus Hardiman.

In my videos, I talk a lot about how important history is for understanding today’s medical system. And I think for too long, conversations specifically about communities of color have fallen out of the mix.

When we think about implicit bias, I think we need to understand that everyone has biases that will affect the way they view a patient or the way they see someone differently.

But understanding these biases will be essential to trying to alleviate them.

You stretch all the way back. You may find that the medical system is part of perpetuating these false beliefs.

Trichotillomania was originally a disease from which slaves escaped and had to be whipped to heal.

Individuals still believe that Black patients do not feel as much pain, or that Black patients have thicker skin, or that Black patients have fewer nerve endings.

A study was done recently. About 50% of respondents to a survey endorsed at least one false belief about Black patients.

I think the reason for the shortage of Black medical students and Black doctors is complex. It’s about history. It’s about resources. It’s about what we currently have access to.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s called the Flexner report. The Flexner report was a report prepared in 1910. It was drafted by the American Medical Association and commissioned Abraham Flexner to tour every medical school in the United States and essentially look at how it’s run.

Almost all schools for women were closed, and almost all schools for minority doctors were closed.

So what this does is, for more than half a century, you haven’t had doctors trained by women or minorities.

Until the Civil Rights Act, it required medical schools to de facto admit people of color.

Rachel Bervel: Talking about where the medicine we practiced was insufficient. We don’t really prioritize public health work being done or the opportunity to go through all these processes.

If we imagine that COVID and monkeypox have recently shown us that we need to better respond to public health emergencies.

Nice to see you, we’ll talk later.

Joel Bervel: Yes, have fun at school tomorrow.

Rachel Bervel: Oh, I will.

Joel Bervel: Unfortunately, the medical system is expensive. Maybe more than $200,000 you have to pay while in med school. Medical students usually spend around $5,000 just to apply to medical school, and there is no guarantee of admission.

And when you consider how long that’s been, it’s basically a generation of people who can’t go to medicine.

You’re incapable of finding mentors to really get you there. I chatted a lot with friends who were supposed to be doctors right now but weren’t because along the way someone told them they weren’t good enough. And I have had these experiences in my own life. I wouldn’t be here right now if it weren’t for the mentors who talked to me and instilled in me that I can be here right now.

Amiethab A. Ayer: like where are you [inaudible]…and then, fast forward, now we were having a group webinar and everything. And then at some point it’s October, I think I’m that year [inaudible].

Joel Bervel: On a typical day? I probably work more than 14 hours. I have many projects that I am currently working on. I am someone who is always trying to figure out what is the best way to make information accessible.

So one of the things I’m doing right now is working with the White House. I also work with the World Health Organization to eliminate medical misinformation and misinformation online.

I work with the general surgeon’s office. Actually, Dr. I need to shoot a really fun video with Vivek Murthy.

I’m currently working on a TV show…

I think there is an incredible movement right now for the next generation to reimagine what medicine is like.

This means making sure that communities that aren’t talked about are actually included in our curriculum. Fortunately, I think dermatology images are diversifying. I think we’re also talking about race-based medicine and why we use race-based medicine and its flaws. Now we are talking about medical devices and how medical devices can read different skin tones and accurately.

We are talking about artificial intelligence and how artificial intelligence actually treats people differently according to the algorithms fed.

I think some people will say I am an influencer or a changer, but I think education is at the center of everything I do. I have always loved to teach. I have always loved to share information. And what I think I’m really trying to do right now is to take the things that fascinate me and give people things in an easily digestible way that they can understand and use to improve their own health. .

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