I recently had the opportunity to interview Mike Dicaro and Neda Mousavi, the founders of the Medical Mentor’s Instagram page. Mike just completed his master’s degree in cellular and molecular medicine; he is now in the process of applying to medical school. Similarly, Neda just graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physiology with a minor in biochemistry, and she now plans on going to dental school. Their Instagram page is absolutely intriguing and informative from a medical standpoint, so please go follow them https://www.instagram.com/themedicalmentors/.
Why did you start your Instagram account, and what motivates you to keep on posting?
So we started this page originally as a way to study. In my master’s program, I was exposed to medical science and clinical cases, and I decided to blog about them over Instagram. Once we started gaining followers, we realized that more people were interested in what we had to say, and we kept going. Once we hit about 1000, we realized we had something special that people love, so we continued going for it. We began posting more detailed explanations of interesting, unique medical cases. Since then, we have broadened our goal. We really believe that the sky’s the limit for this. We want to continue to grow until we have a massive global influence so that we can improve health literacy around the world.
In your opinion, what was your most interesting Instagram post and why?
I like unique posts that showcase the marvels of the human body and the innovative aspects of medical progress. We made a post last week about Decellularization. Decellularization is the process used in biomedical engineering to isolate the extracellular matrix (ECM) of a tissue from its inhabiting cells, leaving an ECM scaffold of the original tissue, which can be used in artificial organ and tissue regeneration. This scaffold of connective tissue can then be reseeded with a patient’s own cells with the goal of regenerating an organ that can be transplanted into the patient without fear of rejection.
Why do you want to be a doctor, and what do you think are the traits of a great one?
The role of a doctor, first and foremost, is to provide the highest quality of care to his or her patients. This has been the case for centuries, and it will never change. In the last few decades, I believe that the role of a doctor has evolved beyond that, though. Now, in the age of information and high-level research, I think that doctors should seek to be more than just clinicians. Many doctors perform research for example. This is great because they have the clinical knowledge to understand diseases while they are also equipped to make new discoveries in the lab. Also, doctors have a leadership responsibility. They are looked up to in their own community and around the world, and they can use this to help even more people. For example, they can do this through serving as the director of health policy or health innovation. Doctors understand what is best for patients, and I feel that they can play a strong role in advocating for the best quality healthcare policy. So a doctor that is able to do these things at a high level, I believe is great!
Where do you see the medical profession in 10-20 years?
This is a very interesting question. There is no doubt that technology is increasing at an exponential rate. We are already seeing automation on some levels in the form of machine learning. For example, IBM’s Watson Artificial Intelligence was able to complete a 4-year medical program in 1 month. Researchers input data and typical coursework that a medical student would learn, and Watson was able to correctly diagnose a leukemia patient in Japan after several doctors had failed. But with this being said, I do believe that doctors will always have a role in medicine. Machines and technology will make care more accessible and efficient, especially for those who can’t, to participate in the healthcare system as it is in the United States right now. However, some people will never feel comfortable receiving diagnosis and treatment from a machine. And there are some things that doctors will need to do that machines can’t, such as specific physical manipulations of the body. For these reasons, I think that there will always be some human element involved in medicine.
What do you think is the best thing that high school students can do if they want to become a doctor when they grow up?
I would say exposing yourself to new aspects of medicine. Shadow physicians, volunteer, and take advantage of opportunities at your school. These are great starting points for high school students. Medical school is very competitive nowadays. Sometimes, 10,000 people will apply to a school that has 50-100 spots available. Medical schools are looking for people who have seen medicine from a broad perspective and know 100% that they want to be physicians. Medical school and residency are a long grind, and some people do end up dropping out. This is why they want to make sure that you know you want to be a physician, and that you exposed yourself to a wide variety of medical activities and involvements. In short, activities that show you are a passionate person, you care for people, and of course that you love science and medicine are the best things that high school students can do if they want to become a doctor when they grow up.
Do you have any “words of wisdom” or inspiration for these kids who want to go into the medical field?
Yes. The most important thing I can say is to never quit if it is your dream. In the United States, it is very common for people to apply 2, 3, sometimes 4 times before they are accepted. Very few people are accepted their first time from my experience. That’s not to discourage anyone, but to shed some light on the competitiveness of the application process. The best words of wisdom I have is to never quit. No matter what. If you are convinced that medicine is what you want to do, go all in our your goal and make it happen. For anyone who has applied and been rejected, I have been there. Trust me – if you know that medicine is your calling, you will continue to improve as an applicant, and you will be accepted when the time is right.
Dicaro, Mike, and Neda Mousavi. Decellularization. 17 June 2017. Instagram, instagram.com/p/BVcqakTFj8h/?taken-by=themedicalmentors. Accessed 4 July 2017.
—. Fight on. 9 June 2017. Instagram, instagram.com/p/BVIaAcKFMek/?taken-by=themedicalmentors. Accessed 4 July 2017.
—. “The Medical Mentors (@themedicalmentors) • Instagram photos and videos.” Instagram, instagram.com/themedicalmentors/. Accessed 27 June 2017.
IBM Watson. 14 Nov. 2016. Bloomberg, bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-14/group-enlists-ibm-s-watson-to-answer-walmart-workers-questions. Accessed 4 July 2017.