Austin Chiang | @austinchiangmd | 183.9k followers | 34 years old | He / Him
Dr. Austin Chiang is a triple board-certified gastroenterologist in Philadelphia specializing in novel endoscopic weight loss treatments and complex interventional procedures. Passionate about empowering patients with accurate medical information online, he serves as the Chief Medical Social Media Officer of his health system and Founding President of the Association for Healthcare Social Media (AHSM.org). His role in social media has been featured by The New York Times, CNBC, BBC News, and Men’s Health
What is your favorite place to create TikToks and why?
I end up making TikToks at home because at work I must focus on my patients and protect their privacy.
Who do you identify most with in pop culture and why?
My pop culture icon is Christina Aguilera. She's focuses on her craft, on career longevity, and on what's timeless, rather than a fad. She's also not afraid of going against the grain and standing up for what she believes in.
When do you feel the most invincible?
Never. In healthcare, I've seen first hand what the limitations of medicine are. I try my best, but I am far from invincible!
How did your relationship with TikTok change in quarantine?
Where as my TikTok content was focused on education on my own terms in the past, I felt even more obligated to clarify confusing things about COVID-19 or misinformation surrounding the pandemic.
Which current injustice is important to you and why?
The most recent news about rolling back anti-discrimination protections in healthcare for transgender patients, because no patient should be denied care for their gender identity or sexual orientation. The concept that a health professional or insurance company could do so contradicts the oath we took as health professionals to do no harm.
What is something you've often heard about using TikTok that is untrue?
That it's only for teens. From the feedback I receive in my comments, I feel the platform has been a great instrument for education especially with the uncertaining of coronavirus-related content earlier in the pandemic and Black Lives Matter and other anti-racism advocacy that I've seen on the platform.
How important is it that your Generation learns how to work well together? Or is it?
It's absolutely important that we recognize how we all contribute a thread in our society's fabric. Working as part of a massive team in real life in healthcare has really shown me how it takes all of us for the system to run as effectively as it can.
If you could create your own superpower, what would it be?
As nerdy as it sounds, it would probably be to learn and member something as quickly as possible. I mean I wish I could fly too, but knowledge is a key ingredient to contextualizing an argument and communicating productively with others.
What are some things you would like to change in your local community? How come?
My ultimate goal is always to empower patients and promote health literacy. Allowing patients to better understand their own conditions is the first step to making sure they know how to follow a treatment plan.
What do you think it is about your TikTok platform that makes you unique?
As a doctor, I really aim to discuss health in a fun, engaging way. I've been recognized for capitalizing on the dance trends and putting my own medical spin on certain skits.
When have you overcome doubt in yourself recently?
Being a young physician I certainly have my moments of "imposter syndrome" and wondering whether I belong where I am. Interestingly, I thrive on seeing other fearless individuals. I enjoy seeing how outspoken and brave a lot of young people are in voicing their opinion and it's inspired confidence as well.
Do you think you're still finding out who you are? What are the clues around you as to who that is?
Absolutely. Interestingly I feel my most of my life has been laser focused on my career, and after completely 15 years of school and training after high school, I'm trying to find myself from a personal standpoint even though I'm well into adulthood.
Why do you think self-expression is more important than ever?
To me, it's critical for me to express myself because for too long patients have seen doctors as unapproachable and robotic. This has contributed to a general distrust in our profession. We are just like everyone else. We share the same interests, struggles, and humor. TikTok has allowed me to share another side of me as a human being.
What's something often misunderstood about you?
That I have it all together, all the time. That couldn't be further from the truth. I am also trying to stay afloat across a variety of responsibilities while making sure I don't lose myself in the process.
How do you see the future as it relates to technology? What's going to change?
I think how we consume information is going to rely increasingly on technology. We are spending more time on social media, and it's an opportunity to follow people who can give insight into different areas of expertise. Aside from social media keeping us connected during moments of physical isolation, I also think technology will continue to positively impact health in so many ways as demonstrated by the pandemic already like contactless payment when going to the grocery store.
What are three things that make you feel fortunate?
Having the ability to help others in real life and on TikTok, having a job when so many others have lost theirs as a result of the pandemic, and of course staying healthy through all this so far.