I’m a medical student who grew up on TikTok as an Influencer

This essay is based upon a conversation with Norman Harris II (25) a Temple University student who works as an influencer for students. It has been edited to be more concise and clear.

  • After a TikTok video went viral almost immediately, I became an influencer and am now a medical student.
  • It’s difficult to find the right balance between being a Tiktok advocate and a medical student.
  • I was a child actor. Content allows me to be creative.

I am still in the early stages as a student influencer. My TikTok was a success almost immediately, and now many companies are reaching out for partnerships.

Although there are many opportunities to partner, I choose carefully who I work with. I want to preserve my brand — being a medical student at Philadelphia’s Temple University who wants to make a social impact while having a comedic flair.

I’ve had a social media presence since childhood, so I wasn’t expecting one video to take my business to the next level. TikTok influence.

The video that started it all

It was the first day for my August OB/GYN rotation. I was able to deliver the baby within 10 minutes of my arrival.

I then went to my car and turned on the phone video. I narrated what had happened and posted it online. TikTok. It had been liked by over 35,000 people, and it had received a million hits. The “likes” doubled the next day and it had 2.8 millions views.

My popularity and followers soared. It’s still amazing to see how quickly the video propelled my into the influencer space.

Walking a tightrope among two careers

Being a student influencer and a medical student takes work — determining how many hours to dedicate to each profession is a balancing act. My priority is to become a doctor.

I usually wake up between 6 and 6:30 a.m. I must be at the hospital or clinic between 7 and 8.

I do pre-rounds with my patients, checking their vitals, and taking notes on their overnight stay. Then, I prepare for my 10 am rounds. I work until about 3:00 p.m. I usually have 30 minutes to an entire hour of nothing when I get back from work. After I have relaxed, I study for each exam that I take at the end.

Although it is difficult to find the time to work on my videos every day, I make use of any extra time that I have to create content.

After graduating Howard University, my first job was as a YouTuber. I was on Fulbright scholarship to teach English to children in Durban (South Africa) and wanted to share these experiences as it’s rare for Blacks, and other underrepresented minority to receive this scholarship. COVID cut my nine-month program down to nine weeks.

When I became a medical student, YouTube videos were too long to edit. TikTok clips are much shorter so I started switching to TikTok. I realized that I could present myself in 30-second increments.

Establishing partnerships is a new skill for a beginner

Some companies reached out after the viral video.

A Black-owned company making medical scrubs needs me to create a video. A Chinese-based suture manufacturer wants me to make a “how to” video about using its kits. This partnership is outside the US and could take longer. It could be a long-term relationship, or a one-time thing.

However, I have turned down other companies because their products didn’t match my brand.

A perfume company asked me to create a custom fragrance and sell it in return for a portion of the profits. Another company asked me to promote a video-chat platform. I don’t know how non-medical products would be received by my followers. I need more time to see what content they want.

Because I became so popular, I’m still a newbie in the industry. I am currently researching the best rates. Sometimes the company’s budget doesn’t allow me to do what I want, so I find people in the middle. I charge $500 for the scrubs video, as it will be available on both my TikTok or Instagram accounts. The suture-kit video will only be available on TikTok so I’m charging $300

My childhood acting career helps

Because it allows me to show my creativity, intelligence, and creativity, I enjoy creating content. Many people don’t know that I was once an actor as a child. My kindergarten play, What if Zebras lost their stripes?My career was re-energized by this person. It was anonymously discovered by a stranger who paid the cost of acting lessons three times a week for a few decades.

I had two managers — one in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, and one in Nashville. I was in a music video for Leeland, a Christian-rock band. I also made direct-to-DVD movies with Lifeway, a book company. 

Although I’m grateful to my acting experience, in high school, I was in a peer mentorship program and realized that I wanted academics. I chose schooling over acting — also, another absence from school would have gotten me kicked out.

I have the best both of them: I am now a doctor, and I use my imagination online.

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