What You Need To Know

    • Emergency room doctor J Mack Slaughter joined TikTok in January to give medical advice and entertain
    • To date, he boasts more than 300,000 followers and more than 30 million views
    • Slaughter is a former actor/singer who also started a nonprofit that buys musical instruments for kids
  • The ER doctor said there is a critical nursing shortage in the emergency room because of COVID

“I’m an emergency room doctor,” he said, decked out in scrubs. “You don’t trust the CDC; you don’t trust big pharma; you don’t trust these studies that are coming out, and that’s fine.

“But I’m one human being speaking to another human being, and I’m working as close to the frontlines as you can possibly get,” he continued. “Almost exclusively, the only people that I see in the emergency department who are gasping for air, whose oxygen levels are low, are the unvaccinated.”

Slaughter joined the popular video app TikTok earlier this year, and he’s using the platform to pass on medical advice, quirky stories from the E.R., general healthy living tips and more — all presented with his signature high-energy delivery and humor.

When the vaccine was first made available to frontline medical workers in December, Slaughter’s emotional video of his own vaccine injection went viral. That would be the first of many times millions of people around the world would join the fresh-faced doctor on his personal journey through the pandemic.

Between Instagram and TikTok, Slaughter’s channels have streamed more than 30 million views with almost 300,000 followers. He recently released a single video that garnered more than 10 million views alone.

“I initially got into this really because earlier this year around January, my friend was like, ‘You have to get on TikTok. And I was, like, ‘This is a platform for children and people who like to dance on camera. And he was like, ‘No, trust me. With your energy and your experience in the entertainment world, you’re going to be able to deliver really important messages to people.”

Slaughter’s resume reads like a career day fantasy. He grew up in a Partridge Family-esque touring band; went on to join a boy band that once opened for Destiny’s Child, among others; starred in a network television show and blockbuster Hollywood movies; started a nonprofit that buys musical instruments for kids; and then put himself through medical school — all before the age of 40.

He’s now jumping on a trend of professionals doling out advice on a platform that is paying out huge sums to influencers. Money, though, isn’t what’s motivating Slaughter to become a high-profile influencer. He said he wants his videos to make a difference.

“I feel like it is,” he said when asked whether his videos are making an impact on viewers. “Not all of my videos are in-depth medical videos. Some of them are just creating some escapism for medical workers that are going through the hardest time in their career right now. But, some of them — for instance, my post about how to identify respiratory distress in children — is so important because people don’t know these symptoms. If you can’t breathe, you can’t live.”

Like many ER departments around the country, the beds at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Southwest, where Slaughter works, are full. That, he said, isn’t the biggest problem at the moment.

“The thing that I don’t think the public understands well enough is the lack of staffing that emergency departments are dealing with right now,” he said. “The problem is staffing all of the nurses. So many emergency nurses are quitting right now — not only in north Texas, it’s happening all across the nation. I talked to all of my ER colleagues and they say the best, most well-established veteran nurses that have been in ERs for decades are leaving.

“They’re just burnt out,” he continued. “They’re done with it. And this presents a really unique problem because being a physician, I can order all of the antibiotics in the world for patients who are septic. And when you’re, when you have sepsis, there is a very short amount of time when you can administer antibiotics and really improve a patient’s ability to survive a severe infection. And I can order these antibiotics, but I can’t give them. And without proper nursing staff, these patients sit out in the waiting room.”