Episode 200: Dr. Muneeb Shah, Dermatology Chief Resident and TikTok Celebrity
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He’s a dermatologist-in-training and a rising internet sensation. Everyone knows him as the very special Dr. Shah, but there’s more to the man behind the lab coat. Bouncing between residency and social media stardom, Dr. Muneeb Shah’s busy, yet fulfilling, schedule leaves him little time to do much else. Yet, through his hard-working and generous spirit, he’s still able to keep up with his patients — both on and off the screen.

Dan Hodgdon
AnnouncerWelcome to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY, hosted by Jodi Katz, founder and creative director of Base Beauty Creative Agency.
JodiHi Molly.
Molly Hi, Jodi.
Jodi Welcome to your very first banter on WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY podcast.
MollyI'm so excited. This is so fun.
JodiI'm so happy that you're on the team. So for anyone tuning in today, Molly is our new social media coordinator to support the podcast. So you'll see her amazing talents come to life, if you visit us on TikTok or Instagram and LinkedIn. And she's gonna make sure that she's sharing, not just the stories of our guests, but the stories of what's happening behind the scenes as we make the show.
MollyYeah, definitely, I am. So I've been loving working with Jodi already and I've been teaching her how to lip sync on TikTok, which has been really fun. So yeah, if you wanna follow any of our, or see any of our content, follow us over there.
JodiSo Molly, this is your first banter and it's the next exciting banter to be a part of because we have our 200th episode celebrating our fifth anniversary of the show and our guest is amazing. Why don't you tell everyone who our guest is?
MollyYeah, everyone. So our guest is the TikTok incredibly famous superstar, dermatologist —dermatology resident, Dr. Muneeb Shah. He is amazing.
JodiSo Dr. Shah's like a real celebrity in this skincare space and, what's so great about this episode — and I hope everybody who loves skincare listens to it — what’s so amazing, is he just like really just tells you what it's like to be a really busy resident who's also an incredibly prolific creator and I, you know, got a little tired just listening to his schedule.
MollyYeah, definitely. He seems like the busiest person I've met in a while, but he was so nice. And like one of the nicest people I've ever seen give an interview before. So this episode is a really good one.
JodiOkay. And then for anyone who is just trying to keep up, we have a lot of changes at the show, so yes, we're celebrating our fifth anniversary this year. It was our 200th episode with Dr. Shah. We also moved the show to a live stream format, which means that all of our fans can actually watch the show get created on YouTube Live, which is so cool. And then, of course, you're listening to us now, which means you're listening on a classic podcast app, so you can watch us make the show. You can listen to us on the show, lots of ways to enjoy this content.
MollyYeah. Pretty much any way you wanna enjoy content. We have the show on it.
JodiSo what's also fun about doing the YouTube Live is we get to really make it like a show. So we took some inspiration from Andy Cohen and watched what happens live. And we played a really fun skincare game with Dr. Shah. And we're gonna do games for every single one of our guests. That was my favorite part of the show.
MollyYeah, it was so fun. And I think Dr. Shah got a huge kick out of it too. And I think it went really well for our first one and all the graphics and the little noises that Kiwi had in, the little applause and celebratory music. I just thought it all was so fun and cute. And I think it's just another fun way to get to know our guests on a different level.
JodiRight. 'Cause my whole purpose of doing this show is to humanize our industry and make sure that we recognize that, you know, we're not marketing robots, right? We're all humans and our career and personal journeys are fascinating, whether we're as notable as Dr. Shah working super behind the scenes. And you know, that's what I love most about this show. And plus, it's free therapy for me. Yeah.
MollyDefinitely, getting to talk to anyone is always the greatest. I'm a chatty person so I feel like podcasts that are more just like a natural conversation are always my favorite.
JodiWell, should we get to it then?
MollyYeah, I think so.
JodiOkay. Everybody here's episode 200 Dr. Shah. Enjoy.
JodiHey everybody, we're here. Oh my goodness. I'm so excited that you all joined us for this huge milestone moment. This is our show's fifth anniversary and you tuned in for our 200th episode! Cue the confetti, let me ring the bell. So I'm so excited. It's been such a journey. I'm so glad that five years ago, my coach Alan convinced me to start a podcast where I can really get to know people in our industry in a way that's much more personal and will really help me on my career journey. So thank you for tuning in — this is the start of our brand new show format. So with this episode, and in all future episodes, we will be live streaming on YouTube Live. So you'll actually get to see the show gets made and watch the guests and I in conversation, and meet the people who work behind the scenes making this show happen. So please subscribe to our channel here so you can get all future livestream notifications and be the first to hear this amazing, helpful therapeutic content. So our podcast theme for this quarter is ‘technology’ and we are thrilled to introduce you now to our 200th guest, I personally adore his entertainment and how he cleverly leverages social media platforms to make a difference in the world, introducing dermatologist, Dr. Muneeb Shah. Hey Dr. Shah.
Dr. ShahHi Jodi. Thank you so much for having me on. This is a big ordeal, 200th episode. I'm completely honored to be here today.
JodiWell, this is like a fangirl moment for me because my whole team at Base Beauty, we adore you, we loved watching your content. We love seeing how far you progress in leveraging social media to demystify and debunk the skincare myths that are out there. And there's so many that are weird and dangerous and sometimes cruel. So we're so grateful for the service that you give fans, but also how entertaining you make your content.
Dr. ShahThank you so much. I appreciate that.
JodiSo, Dr. Shah, here's your formal welcome to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY. And I'm gonna ask you my favorite question. So I'm gonna ask you to close your eyes. Think back to your 11-year-old self. What do you wanna be when you grow up?
Dr. Shah11 years old? Probably a soccer player. Not a doctor. That's a sure fact. Like, I didn't wanna be a doctor until I was 21. So that was definitely not on my radar. I thought the school was way too long to be a doctor. So I was thinking soccer player, entrepreneur, something like that. And then by the time I got to the age where I actually had to make a decision, I wanted to be a stay-at-home dad at like 18, 19.
JodiOkay. So number one, were you great at soccer?
Dr. ShahI thought I was pretty good. I mean, you know, other people maybe didn't think so much, but I played, you know, JV and varsity for my high school. We won states. It was definitely something I enjoyed, but I don't think I was good enough, if I'm looking back retrospectively, to be a professional soccer player.
JodiOkay. And then what about being 18 made you think that you wanted to be a stay-at-home dad?
Dr. ShahWell, every time I say this, people think that I'm not, I was not being serious that that's what I wanted to do because now all of a sudden, how did you go through 12 years of school and training? Like, if you wanted to stay home. But I think back to my mom who was absolutely brilliant, she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in computer engineering and then made the decision to stay home and raise me and my three other siblings. And just the values that she instilled in us, the morals, the ethics, the hardworking. And she was just so knowledgeable and smart and went out of her way to give us the best childhood. And I think a lot of people looked at it like she was sacrificing her career, but for her, she really enjoyed raising us.
Dr. ShahAnd I thought, well, I would love to instill that type of morals in my children. And so I was going to college. I'm like, how do I find a wife who can support me in the children type of situation. But I really just wanted to be like what my mom had provided for me because I really looked up to her and how brilliant she was and everything. She even got her teaching degree while she was raising us so that she could feel comfortable teaching us things after school, like math and pre-calculus. And she taught me all the way through high school and college, every time I needed help with something because she was just so knowledgeable.
JodiOh, that's so amazing. I mean, when Mike has needed help with math homework, I just have to YouTube it, you know, so it's so incredible that she actually went like so far to help you and your siblings really help your careers advance. Okay, so how do you go from 18 saying, ‘this is what I wanna prepare and set my life up for’ to actually then deciding you're gonna go to school to become a physician.
Dr. ShahSo much of my life, very much unplanned, even the social media thing, which we'll talk about. I kind of take things day to day. And so the way that I looked at it was like, all right, I'm in college. You know, I mean, I'll focus on one thing, you know, I majored in psychology figured, you know, I'd meet somebody and then, get married, I'd stay at home. And then didn't meet anyone in college. So I was like, all right, well, next step ended up in med school. And I'm like, all right. I met my wife in med school, finally. And I'm like, I guess I've gotten too far. I gotta finish this thing out. Now I have, you know, $300,000 in debt. I can't just not work at this point, you know? So I just found my wife in med school and I was like, well, I guess I just continue this thing as far as it goes. But it shifted and I ended up falling in love with medicine and dermatology. I mean, this is truly my calling, but I really didn't have that objective when I started out.
JodiOkay. And how did you find dermatology? Cause I know it's really hard to actually figure out what your specialty is gonna be. What's that story for you?
Dr. ShahSo medicine, specifically like being a physician in medicine, because of how much training you need to do to be an expert in a particular topic, it is very difficult to switch once you've trained in something. 'Cause after med school, you have to pick a particular specialty, and then we do something called a residency, and then maybe potentially a fellowship after that. And so you pick one thing to do forever. It's like, I'm gonna be a pediatrician. That's three years. Internal medicine, that's three years. OB G GYN, which is what my wife does, four years. General surgery, five years. And so dermatology is four years. And so once you pick something, you kind of have to stick with it. And so it's very difficult to make a decision in med school about what are you gonna do for the rest of your life forever and ever in love.
Dr. ShahAnd you just really don't have enough data. I dabbled in a lot of different things but ultimately ended up in dermatology because it's very visual. It's outpatient. You develop relationships with patients that are very intimate relationships. And the best thing about it, I think, is seeing patients do better. Like it's very visual. So if you have acne and we treat it and it gets better, I show you photos before and after of the results. If you have a skin cancer, I can show you the before photo, the after photo of it being clear, we removed the skin cancer and not everything is that simple. We have conditions that are more chronic conditions that don't just get a hundred percent better, like removing a skin cancer. But even in those conditions, you can see gradual improvement and you develop a relationship with that patient as they progress through their treatment. And I absolutely love seeing those very visual results in patients and developing relationships with them, which is, I think the most important part about being a physician. It’s the relationship that you develop with your patients.
JodiBefore we move into deeper questions, I want everyone to know what we talked about before we started recording, which is, I asked you do I call you Dr. SHAH? And you said, well, you can call me Muneeb. You can call me Shah, you can call me Dr. Shah. And I said that this will be so hard for me to actually not call you Dr. Shah, because we talk about you at work, every day as Dr. Shah, but I'm gonna try. So you know, you might hear me throw in a Muneeb. You might hear me throw in a Shah. I will say with my New Jersey accent, it ends up sounding like ‘Shaw’ which we found on Instagram with those auto subtitles. They wanted my Jersey accent to turn your name into Shaw but, I want you to know I'm gonna practice being less formal with you, but it's gonna be really hard.
Dr. ShahI think it's important, actually, the less formal thing, because what I do on social media is trying to show you that you and I are the same. I did this extra education on a part of a particular topic, but I have the same fears. I have the same concerns, I have the same family issues as every single person that's out there. And so, you don't need to call me doctor. Like, I know that I'm a doctor, but you know we're the same. And you have expertise in one thing and I have expertise in another thing and we need each other, you know, collectively for society to move forward. So the distance, I don't think, is something that I wanna create between my audience and my patients and me.
JodiI love that. I mean, it really helps me because I think there's a parallel there with our show. The show is all about humanizing our industry and not just thinking about people on a stage who sold their business for a billion dollars, right? It's about the fact that you go to the food store to buy eggs. And so do I.
Dr. ShahRight, exactly.
JodiOkay. Muneeb, then let's talk about technology. That's the theme of our season. This quarter is all about technology and we are so excited for you to come onto the show because look at what you've done with technology, from the perspective of a physician. You’ve actually, I think, crossed a boundary that hadn't been crossed before, which is truly making your specialty so humanized and so entertaining that your YouTube channel is one of the largest medical professional, YouTube channels. Your TikTok is on fire. And people just can't get enough of you. I mean, I hear it on the brand side, right? Like everybody wants to get in front of Dr. Shah. So why lean into social media? What has that, what was the impetus for even starting this?
Dr. ShahSo like all things, you know, I kind of stumbled into it. Mid pandemic, our office slowed down a little bit. Tiktok was just coming out and everyone was talking about it and I just fell in love with the content, like the trends that would show up. I am a, a lot of people dunno this, I am a huge TikTok consumer. I watch videos all day on TikTok. I think it's the greatest platform for sending you content that you might enjoy. I just love the creativity that was coming on. It was so different from Instagram to me, which was a lot of curated photos. A lot of people with lifestyles that I felt were just out of reach for me and other people, but I just loved TikTok. I thought it was just — it came off to me as much more organic.
Dr. ShahAnd so I just started to create content for fun. And actually, my first couple of videos were not like really dermatology videos. They were just me kind of having fun, kind of poking at the medical profession. And then all of a sudden people started to see me as a professional. So they'd ask me, ‘well, how do you treat acne?’ And I was like, ‘well, I know how to treat acne. I do this every day’. Boom. I put out a video then like thousands of comments, like, ‘well, how do you treat dark spots after acne?’ I'm like, ‘well, I know how to do that’. You know like, boom, make a video, just like simple, straightforward. I was talking to people how I felt like I wanted to be talked to when I didn't know anything about skin. Like just very simple, straightforward.
Dr. ShahI think we take for granted, like when you become an expert in something, what other people might know about it. I literally don't know anything about cars. My brake fluid was low. I don't even know what that means necessarily, but I go to the mechanic and they'll tell me what that means, but I want them to make it simple for me. And so that's how I felt about dermatology. I was like, let me just make it simple for anyone to understand that doesn't have any expertise in this particular subject. And so I created very, very simple videos, answering very, very common questions, and then it just took off. And that was just the nature of, the nature of TikTok. And so I just realized in that moment, I have something that is unique and it's an opportunity that I need to either decide, do I focus on residency, which I continue to focus on, or do I double down on TikTok and social media because there's an opportunity here for me to reach a larger audience that I could never reach in my lifetime in clinic? I think I had like 7 billion views last year on social media. In my lifetime, I could never, if I was seeing people in the clinic, I could never see that many people. And so I was like, this is an opportunity to educate. And I just doubled down on it.
JodiWas there a moment where you like, saw it crystal clear? Like, yes, this is absolutely something I need to lean into and devote a lot of time to?
Dr. ShahThere was a couple of moments. Like there were videos that went viral that I realized, okay, like I have an op--, I maybe have an edge in like being able to present information to people that is quick and easy to understand. And so I felt like I had understood the platform and what people were looking for. So it was like, okay, I can do this. And then it was like, should I do this? I started to get feedback from people. Like when I would do videos about skin conditions, like acne or (inaudible 17:06 - 17:07), or just, you know, conditions of the skin that a lot of people weren't familiar with. And then being like, ‘oh, I have this’, like, I didn't know. I didn't know other people had it. I was like, this is really important, what I'm doing. Or someone would comment, ‘I got a mole checked out because I saw your video and it ended up being cancer and we got it removed because of you’, like stuff like that.
Dr. ShahI was like, whoa, this is like really, really impactful. And then there was... this is kind of a little deep, but going back to my intern year when I trained in internal medicine, there was a shell shock period. When you go from med school to training in the hospital and you see people who are perfectly healthy one day get sick with something, or they end up in a car accident or it's just like, life changes so quickly. And I think as a physician, you realize how fragile life can be. And I started to think to myself then, what is my impact on the world? Like it's deep, but what if, you know, what impact am I having on the world overall? And so that moment, plus what I was doing on social media, I was like, I can bring these together and have a positive impact on the world so that if something were to happen to me, I would feel like I left an overall positive impact on the world.
JodiWhen I start to think about doing something that's really exciting to me, but like totally new territory like this, like what we're doing today, my heart races. It gets like a little crazy, you know, I have a visceral reaction to my future goals. And I used to think that said to me, don't do it. It’s too scary or you're not ready now. I'm like, oh my body's saying, ‘this is really exciting and brand new and you're gonna go for it and it's gonna be awesome!'. Does your body send you a signal in a moment like this when you're like, I have this opportunity and I'm gonna seize it?
Dr. ShahI'm the kind of person, I actually like that a lot, because a lot of times, like the most worthy things of pursuing, have some fear or unknown component to it. And anytime I've gone down that path, it's always turned out to be a great thing for me. So I'm glad, you recognize that for me, I ruminate while I lay in bed or I'm in the shower. And I think about things very thoroughly, like a lot of my stuff comes off as like I didn't put a lot of thought, but I'm like always thinking about, constantly about, what does this mean? What should I do next? And I think I was just laying in bed one day and just thinking about the day. And I was like, I have to do, I have to continue with this. This is like the moment. And I see it clearly that if I stick with this, that something good things will come from it. So it was just one of those days where I was ruminating on where I was in life.
JodiWell, let's go into the mundane. We love minutia here. Our fans love it because it really does help demystify how people move through the world, how success is created. So literally, how do you organize and split your time between seeing patients and doing all this work on all these platforms? And then, by the way, you respond to DMS, and tag posts, like we don't know how you have a time to do this off.
Dr. ShahYeah, so there's a finite amount of time in a day and you realize quickly, it's not that much time. Once you start to be very busy, and unfortunately, I wasn't somebody who, if somebody is out there right now that's, you know, their life is not that complex right now, my advice to you would be to come up with a system to plan your day, even if you know in your mind what you're gonna do that day, because I wish I would've done that before I got so busy. Because right now I have no infrastructure to build off of. If I had a good organizational structure and then all of this stuff happened, I would fit it into that schema, but I didn't have anything. And so now I'm like kind of playing backwards on all this. How do I create a schedule when I've never had a schedule before, but I really just work an insane amount of hours that I don't recommend to most people. I wake up at five o'clock.
Dr. ShahI walk my dog, drink my coffee, get to work by seven, work from seven to maybe six or seven at night. So that's like 12 hours. And then I get on a call with my manager from LA who's three hours behind. So it's normal hours for her. And then I talk to her about like, what do I have to do today? As far as content creation from some of the brands that I work with. And then once we sort all that out, I go and I make organic content that I need to post to my social media channels or things that I've thought are people, things that people have been tagging me in all day, I'll respond to them or react to them. And then I do that all week. And then on the weekend, I shoot YouTube videos with one of the doctors I work with, Dr. Luke Maxfield. It's literally a 24/7 thing for me right now, which is not necessarily healthy.
JodiOkay. So this is really fascinating to me because I'm wondering like, how is this sustainable, as a human, you know, how do you keep this? Like Emily on my team, she says, social media doesn't have office hours. How do you continue down this path trying to shove as much as possible into a limited amount of time?
Dr. ShahIt really doesn't have office hours. And I think that TikTok has made it worse or better, however you look at it. Because the way that I think Instagram and YouTube traditionally worked was that you'd pretty much be viral in the countries that you live in. And, you know, not always true, but usually within a similar time zone, but TikTok videos are going viral in South Africa, like India, initially before they removed TikTok from India. But you know, Indonesia, Malaysia, like all over the world. And so you're getting comments 24/7. And you respond to those comments, you respond to those DMS. You could always be creating more content, especially as, you know, a dermatologist. We have unlimited know–, like not unlimited knowledge, but we have unlimited, like different topics we could talk about related to the skin or skincare products or, you know, it becomes like a, a thing where you could actually get caught in the cycle of like, I can't get out of this. Because there's this unlimited amount of things that you could be doing that you're not doing.
Dr. ShahAnd then it kind of weighs on you pretty heavy. I could be doing more. So for me, I just have gotten better about sleep hygiene because I used to, I used to sort of envy those people that would say, ‘well, I only sleep like two hours a day and like, you know, that's how I'm so productive’. And I'm like, well, after you do that for six months, you start to feel it and you lose your creativity. You don't function as well. Like you're there, but you're not there. You're not like peak optimal self. And so I'm trying to prioritize, okay, I'm gonna go to bed at this time. Even if not, everything is done that day and then I'll pick it up tomorrow. So it's those types of things where you try to pick out things that are really slowing you down. And for me, it was not sleeping enough and trying to prioritize those things.
JodiSo when you started to prioritize sleep and you know that there's still a long list, did that create any sort of anxiety inside of you that you had to reconcile? 'Cause, obviously there's always gonna be a list, but like, did you start to feel that pressure?
Dr. ShahNo, it was actually kind of a relief for me. It was really interesting because it was a TikTok video that encouraged me to do this. I saw some guy on my, For You page and, and he said, as I was like in bed, not sleeping. He was like, ‘the reason you don't go to sleep at a reasonable time at night is not because you're gonna get a bunch of work done, but it's because you have a bunch of work to do. And because, you know, you have to get it done, you punish yourself by staying up until you're too tired to finish that task, and then you fall asleep and now you just wasted three hours. You never got the task done. And now your next day is also gonna be a waste’. And so I was like, wait, I'm doing that right now.
Dr. ShahI have all these tasks that I know I can't get done today. So I punish myself by staying up and then I don't complete them. And then I just end up going to sleep at like 2:00 AM. And now I'm exhausted the next day. And so I was like, wait, I do this every day. Why not just complete what I can complete in a day at a reasonable time and then start over the next day? And so for me, it was a big relief and I realized nothing changed when I started doing that, like I was still getting everything done on the times that I was supposed to get them done.
JodiI love this topic because I use the word seduction to describe the potential for career growth. It is really seductive. It's not like a typical word that we use, you know, to talk about career journey. But this idea of, if I tackle three more things today, I'm this much closer to my goal, whatever that goal is, right? But that also has a cost, right? It's exciting because you love your work, but on the downside, it's like, well, what could you be doing with that time? Like sleeping or eating healthy or getting fresh air, right? So I'm fascinated by this topic because I think we're lucky enough to work in a business that's super thrilling and exciting, and there's always new challenges and people supporting us, but that comes with a cost. Sometimes when we don't really think about what we need beyond the work.
Dr. ShahYeah. I think because like you said, it's definitely seductive and you almost feel guilty that you have this opportunity that like you should be, you should be grateful that you have so much to do, right? That’s the way that I would be looking at it when all these opportunities were coming my way, I was like, this is amazing. And I think actually gratitude is probably the main thing that keeps me not feeling burnt out, taking a moment to say, ‘wow, look how far I've come’. Or what I've accomplished over this past year is like, ama– like, beyond my wildest dreams — if I thought about my dreams three years ago, right. But in the moment you're like, ‘wow, like I'm so overwhelmed’. But then you're like, ‘wow, look what I've accomplished’.
Dr. ShahBut I really think that it does get seductive to want to continue to push yourself further and further. And I think in our society, it's almost like something that people really look at somebody and they're like, ‘wow, like they accomplished so much’. And so you kind of get hooked on that and you have to step aside from it and be like, this is not good for me or what I'm actually doing. I'm less effective at my job if I continue to do this. And so it's not good either way.
JodiOkay. So, the other side of this question is I didn't hear a lot of free time. I heard walking, dog, and coffee, but with your free time when you carve it out and not sleep, what do you like to be spending your time doing?
Dr. ShahMy wife is the one that kind of keeps me grounded in that sense, 'cause I could work all day and I would be okay with that, but she's not okay with that. And so what I do is when she wants to hang out or watch a movie, she's actually a huge fan of Bravo and the Real Housewives, like that's like her jam. And so we'll sit down and we'll watch her shows and we'll just enjoy time together or we'll go on vacations together. And so she kind of keeps me grounded in the reality of like, you can't work all the time. Let's just hang out and spend time together. So she's really good about that, but if she wasn't in the equation, I don't know if, or how, I would turn it off.
JodiOkay. I love hearing about other Bravo fans. I have to say that programming just makes me so happy. Okay. Let's switch gears. You are completing your residency this year, so everybody wants to know — Muneeb what's next?
Dr. ShahWhat's next. So still trying to figure that out, but I'm very, very close. I will be practicing dermatology, seeing patients in clinic, doing everything that I already do. My schedule will be reduced because residency is always harder than what you do, when you're out in practice. Like you work more hours, you study more, so my schedule will be better from a clinical perspective, but I'll still be seeing patients doing everything. And where that is yet not a hundred percent sure, very close to deciding, but not a hundred percent there yet. And then I'll continue to create content. I think I'm gonna continue to do TikTok, Instagram, YouTube. I wanna expand into more basically highlighting the dermatology community because I think there are so many interesting people that are doing amazing things in dermatology. And I think on social media, we don't do a good job of highlighting the full field of dermatology because it's really a fascinating field.
Dr. ShahYou see a lot of pimple popping stuff. You see a lot of cyst excisions. You see a lot of that gory graphic content in one spectrum. And then on the other spectrum, you see a lot of that skincare stuff, which is just like, you know, retinols and sunscreens. And, but there's so much in between that, that we do from like psoriasis to, you know, hidradenitis to skin cancers, to laser procedures and all this kind of stuff. Like birth defects. We fix vascular birth defects on kids' faces and things like that, that is like really important work. That is really important to a lot of people that we don't necessarily highlight on social media. So my goal is to kind of use my platform, my audience, to highlight the experts that are really moving the field of dermatology forward.
JodiSo how do you pick where to go, right? So I imagine this is not just about where do you wanna practice, but you know, how, how can you help reach this goal, which is, you know, amplifying other dermatologists and dermatology? What are, what's in the equation? And also right, you have a wife who's a practicing physician as well.
Dr. ShahYeah. So we have to plan around where she's gonna find a job. We have to plan around where I'm gonna find a job. What do I want to do in practice? So there's so many different things that go into the equation. Really for me, it's where can I provide the best care to my patients while still being able to like film in the clinic and all that kind of stuff, be able to do social media the way that I want to do it? But at the same time, being able to provide really high-quality care to patients, which is where this all started. And what's grounded, like this is the grounding of all this, is the patient, which is why for me, it's so important to practice dermatology. Like, I could be like a social media dermatologist and just do that.
Dr. ShahRight? But I think you lose perspective on what the people want on the ground floor, like, what are people asking you? What concerns do they have? We see people of all different socioeconomic statuses and you tell them to go buy this cleanser and they're like, ‘I don't have $30’. And on social media, I think you lose that. Because you kind of end up in a bubble, but when you're seeing patients that need to decide between food and the skincare product, then you are very grounded in the reality of what most humans experience on a day-to-day basis. And so for me, it's very important perspective-wise, but it's also what I love. I love going to clinic and talking to my staff and like working with our nurses, talking to patients, developing relationships with them. So I don't know yet exactly how to craft the perfect practice, but I know that I just wanna be able to do all that.
JodiOkay, back to being in the practice. We're curious about what impact your social media persona has been able to have with patients. Has there been anything unexpected where, you know, something that you could never have imagined, like, the impact your social media world has on actual people who walking through the door and meeting you in a treatment room?
Dr. ShahYeah. So there's a lot of people that call the office, which I think is awesome because for me it means like they really trust me. And I even have some doctors call the office, who are not dermatologists. They may be like emergency medicine doctors or working in an urgent care and they'll call the office like, oh, we send 'em photos. ‘We have an interesting case and we don't know what it is'. And so, social media has such a reach, and you are perceived as the expert, which is something that I've always kind of struggled with because I always feel like I have mentors that are more of an expert than I am. You know what I mean? I'm very like conscious of that. Like, I work the hardest to be the best at what I do.
Dr. Shah'Cause I think that makes you a good doctor and, I don't want to know, like I want to know everything about dermatology, but there are people that are literally been doing this like 30, 40 years that are my mentors that I lean on, that I ask questions to. And so those people, I feel are my mentors and my, and the experts. But the world perceives you as, you know, the expert in all things. And you know, I've learned a lot. And so I consider myself to be very knowledgeable, but there are people that certainly know more than I do. And so when people reach out to you, it's because they trust you not necessarily because you are the ultimate expert. And I think that that's something that social media really builds from people that a lot of people don't seem to understand fully, is like the trust aspect that's built into social media, versus like your traditional physicians, which is like built much, much on their resume and their experience.
Dr. ShahThere's now this new trust factor that people believe you because they see you constantly putting out good, accurate, and trustworthy information. And so that's been really interesting to me, but, I think it's always the individual patients that really have the most impact on me. It's the person who walked in the door, I think the best example, and I've already mentioned it a few times is this condition called hidradenitis suppurativa, it's a condition where you get these like boils. And everyone thinks they're ingrown hairs or cysts in the armpit, but really it's an inflammatory condition of the hair follicle that gets misdiagnosed by everybody. So this classic patient will go to the ER, a bunch of times throughout their life. They'll have these boils, they'll get them drained. They'll go home on no medications and never get treated for this thing.
Dr. ShahAnd then be embarrassed that they have these things that smell bad, that drain; they become reclusive. They don't wanna go on dates. They don't wanna meet people because they have these disfiguring boils in their armpits and groin and they never seek out treatment for it. And so the issue is, how do you let people know that this is a condition that we can treat? And this is what it is. And so I've done a lot of videos around this particular topic and I've had patients actually come in and say like, ‘I have hidradenitis suppurativa, I'm seeking treatment for it’. And I'm like, ‘well, how do you know you have hidradenitis suppurativa?’ And they're like, ‘I saw your videos on social media. And I came here because I didn't know that I had this condition or that it could be treated.’ And they've been, you know, struggling with it for 10 years. And so the impact in that way for me is like, wow, I am impacting people I don't even know exist. And it's actually, it's actually motivating them to improve their lives. And so those are like surreal moments for me. Like when you're making videos in your room alone, you don't think that there are all these people out there, you know?
JodiThis is awesome. Okay. My last question, what is the most significant skin health myth that you wanna debunk?
Dr. ShahHmm. Significant myth. I mean, you know, there's so many myths out there. I think probably the one that I really want to debunk for people, because I think this is something that a lot of people think and I thought too, is that you need to spend a lot of money to have good or healthy skin. And that is just not true. I mean, there's so much I debunk, a lot of like marketing things that go out there, but truthfully you can have very good skin for low prices. They don't need to necessarily be expensive products if you know what ingredients to look for and are sort of educated on what products are gonna help your skin. But I think the biggest myth I thought and that my barrier to entry to skincare when I first started to be interested in skincare was that I thought I couldn't afford it. And that it was just something that was way outta my reach for the average person. And I think with all the new products that are coming out, there's so many good options for people to have much better skin at a very low cost.
JodiI love this. Well, thank you so much for your wisdom, Dr. Shah and for our listeners. I hope you enjoy this interview. Please subscribe to our series on your favorite podcast app and for updates about the show follow us on Instagram at @wherebrainsmeetbeautypodcast.
AnnouncerThanks for listening to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY with Jodi Katz. Tune in again for more authentic conversations with beauty leaders.

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