UH Med Now

Tok Doc: Pediatric ophthalmologist, proud mother garners impressive social media following

Date: March 1st, 2022 in Faculty, JABSOM News, Ophthalmology, Pediatrics, UH Manoa    Print or PDF

Dr. Rupa Wong

Board-certified Pediatric Ophthalmologist Dr. Rupa Wong has not only made a name for herself in the world of medicine but has also gone viral on social media with her educational, fun and down to earth videos.

Wong, assistant clinical professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), has been on social media for the past three years. It all started with Instagram, where she discovered a group of other doctors that were interested in promoting health information. Together, they formed the non-profit organization, the Association for Healthcare Social Media, a resource for social media usage by healthcare professionals that advocates for using social media as a public health tool to combat misinformation.

“Through that group that’s when I started branching out into different types of social media platforms just in an effort to get others to understand eye health and information and also what it’s like to become a doctor and a woman in medicine,” said Wong.

Her initial goal for social media was to increase patient education about the eye disorder strabismus. She soon found a strong following, particularly in young women, who were inspired by the transparency depicted in her videos not only about her life as a physician, but also as a mother of three.

“I started getting messages from younger women in high school, college and medical school that said, ‘my family said I can’t be a surgeon and a mother. What do you think of this?’ There were so many (similar messages) that I felt that it was really important to address that,” said Wong. “I really do believe that if you see it– you can be it. I have my daughter and my two boys and I thought it was really important to pull back the curtain so that others can see how I make my life work.”

Wong’s social media posts as @drrupawong have captured the attention of many across the world. She currently has 119.7 thousand followers on TikTok, 64.5 thousand followers on Instagram and 42.4 thousand subscribers on YouTube. She also has a weekly podcast, “It’s Good to See You with Dr. Rupa Wong,” where she delves into the challenges of balance, time management, entrepreneurship and being a boss on your own terms.

As a physician, Wong understands that there is a lot of hesitancy about “how to do social media right”, especially as a medical student and as a resident. She offers the advice to first check with the university, the hospital and/or the owner of the private practice about their social media policies.

“You have to be really mindful and it’s important to learn these skills early on,” Wong said. “If you take a selfie– what’s in the background? Is there a patient, a clinic chart where you can zoom in and see patient names, is there a cat scan on the monitor behind you?”

But once you get the go ahead to post something, Wong said,“I think it’s a really wonderful way to also deepen your connection with patients.”

Originally from Raleigh, North Carolina, Wong attended Duke University and received her MD from Cornell University Medical College. After residency, she completed her fellowship in pediatric ophthalmology and adult strabismus in Boston, which is where she met her “local boy” husband and Comprehensive Ophthalmologist Dr. Jeffrey Wong (JABSOM MD 2003). They moved back to Hawaiʻi in 2008 and practice together at Honolulu Eye Clinic.

Watch our video (filmed by Vina Cristobal and Deborah Dimaya):

By Deborah Dimaya, Interim Communications Director

Dr. Rupa Wong

Dr. Rupa Wong at her clinic. Deborah Dimaya photo.

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