Videos featuring rapping doctors or nurses are nearly as ubiquitous (and entertaining) as hospital mergers. But ZDoggMD has made a specialty of the form. Dr. Zubin Damania is a practicing internist who has built a side career as a performer and speaker at healthcare events in his adopted persona.
Damania, 43, parodies hit songs to spread the word about serious medical conditions. He posts his videos to his YouTube channel, and his catalog of nearly 50 songs has garnered millions of views, according to health news website Stat.
Some take exception to his style, which they say mocks their symptoms. In a video about strokes, he bulges his eyes and slurs his speech. “At least I won't need Botox now, cuz half my face looks young,” he sings.
“His video may be (seen as) a mockery, with the face drooping. People might be offended by it,” Dr. Rani Whitfield, a representative of the American Stroke Association, told Stat.
But Damania, who practices in Las Vegas, said he's attempting to change not just how patient education is viewed but also the image of physicians. “Doctors, as a group, are horribly boring and risk-averse and just terrible,” he told Stat.
Another video tackles opioid addiction, with Damania as a doctor-shopping addict who spouts a torrent of conditions looking for pain meds.
Amid the controversy, Damania's videos have attracted corporate support. Athenahealth, which offers cloud-based electronic health record services, sponsored “EHR State of Mind,” a riff on Jay-Z's “Empire State of Mind.” The parody delves into problems associated with adopting EHRs.
His regular appearances at healthcare forums have won the clinician some fervent fans, including Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute. “Hands down, the most entertaining doctor I have ever heard present,” Topol said in an endorsement on ZDoggMD's website.