The ProspectiveDoctor Podcast

GI and Healthcare Social Media with Dr. Austin Chiang

Dr. Austin Chiang, founder of the first non-profit professional society for health professional social media use, called the Association for Healthcare Social Media (AHSM), discusses the role of social media in healthcare and gastroenterology.

  • [01:06] Why Dr. Chiang Chose His Specialty
  • [05:24] The Association for Healthcare Social Media
  • [12:10] Social Media Advice for Pre-med And Medical Students
  • [13:48] Cool Sculpting
  • [15:45] The Myths of Gastroenterology
  • [20:11] Students Reaching Out to Healthcare Professionals on Linkedin
  • [22:14] Dr. Chiang’s Advice to Pre-meds and Medical Students

Dr. Erkeda DeRouen talks to Dr. Austin Chiang, MD. Dr. Chiang is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Jefferson Health (Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals) in Philadelphia, PA, and serves as the Endoscopic Weight Loss Program Director. Having trained at the only dedicated bariatric endoscopy program, he is one of few triple board-certified advanced endoscopy-trained physicians worldwide. Dr. Chiang is also the Chief Medical Social Media Officer of Jefferson Health and Founding President of the Association for Healthcare Social Media (AHSM), the first non-profit professional society for health professional social media use.

Why Dr. Chiang Chose Internal Medicine, Advanced Endoscopy and Gastroenterology

In medical school, Dr. Chiang kept an open mind about choosing a specialty. He thought he wanted to do something procedural or surgical and explored these options throughout med school. It was only after his Internal Medicine rotation that he thought seriously about pursuing internal medicine.

Initially, he leaned towards pulmonary critical care, but he detoured into interventional cardiology once he started his residency. In the meantime, all his friends were going into gastroenterology.

He had never considered Gastro before, but once he looked into it, he became very interested in the procedural aspects of the specialty and the innovation behind the equipment in use in the field. Another part of the specialty that piqued his interest was the variety; he felt that the field’s scope would never make him feel confined or bored.

Once Dr. Chiang was in GI, he was exposed to advanced endoscopy and bariatric endoscopy. He did a second fellowship during his GI fellowship and did his 3rd fellowship in advanced endoscopy in his final year at Jefferson.

Founding President of the Association for Healthcare Social Media (AHSM)

The Association for Healthcare Social Media (or AHSM) is the first non-profit professional society devoted to helping professionals on social media. The organization aims to help them use social media effectively and responsibly.

Early in his career, Dr. Chiang noticed issues particularly relevant to healthcare professionals on social media. He conceived of the organization, in part, as a way to help professionals leverage social media platforms to reach out to their communities and educate the public on various aspects of healthcare.

The AHSM develops resources to help healthcare providers use social media in a way that is most beneficial to them and their communities. They have also formed partnerships with various social media companies to develop courses for the AHSM’s members to learn how to get the best out of each platform.

Dr. Chiang knows that the general public often gets their medical information from outside the healthcare community. Some of the organization’s objectives are to address pervasive misconceptions like vaccine misinformation and educate the public on race and gender disparities within the healthcare system.

Social Media Advice for Pre-med Students

While social media may have been a bit “risqué” for health professionals a few years ago, that perception has mostly flipped. Program directors are aware that everybody has a social media account. Your social media accounts may prove to be an asset and may be a way for programs and their directors to gain more insight into who you are and help you match into a residency.

On the other, Dr. Chiang warns students not to assume that their private accounts are never genuinely private. Your friends and colleagues can always screenshot things you put on the internet. If you feel like there’s something on your account that you should hide, it likely shouldn’t be on the internet at all.


People’s perception of Gastroenterology is very different from what they do. Part of the reason Dr. Chiang became active on social media was to deal with the misconceptions of his field. People often think healthcare providers in GI are confined to IBS and acid reflux and colonoscopies. But, like many other fields, GI can be very specialized. Dr. Chiang often deals with pancreatic cancer, diseases of the bile duct, and obesity-related issues. Some of his colleagues focus on liver transplant medicine, others on inflammatory bowel disease, and often specialize beyond others’ scope in the field.

Students reaching out on LinkedIn

Most healthcare professionals with a social media presence are open to speaking to students. They are always hoping to inspire the next generation of physicians and attract talent to their fields. With this in mind, Dr. Chiang urges students with questions to reach out. He doesn’t often check his LinkedIn messages, so it is probably best to reach out on multiple platforms.

Dr. Chiang’s Advice to Pre-Meds and Medical Students

Dr. Chiang urges pre-med and medical students to keep an open mind. You don’t know what opportunities or inspiration might come along. If you are too single-minded, your tunnel-vision could blind you to invaluable opportunities.

You can get in touch with Dr. Austin Chiang, MD on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Youtube.

Erkeda DeRouen

Dr. Erkeda DeRouen is a graduate of Hampton University with a B.S. in Biological Sciences, followed by completing medical school at the Boston University School of Medicine. She then completed residency at The University of Maryland Family and Community Medicine Program. After that, she worked at an underserved community health center, and currently is an Associate Medical Director of a telemedicine company. She recently became one of the first 1,000 lifestyle medicine certified physicians in the world! Her areas of interest include: health equity and eliminating health disparities, service of underserved populations, HIV management, transgender care, mentorship, and lifestyle medicine.

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