When Dr Ed Hope, a clinical teaching fellow at Broomfield Hospital, started a YouTube channel as a learning aid, little did he realise he was about to catapult himself into the limelight.
A year on, Ed’s channel - Dr Hope’s Sick Notes - has an incredible 362,000 subscribers, putting him in the premier league of YouTube medical content creators.
Ed’s mix of medical tuition and analysis of clinical scenes in popular films and television shows has seen his videos receive an astonishing 22.8 million views.
“When I took on the teaching role and prepared good study sessions, I wanted a way to capture them,” said Ed, who is about to enter his third year as a teaching fellow. “When I went thorough med school, you always forgot some of the key stuff you learnt. I thought if I could make videos, they could be something I could refer back to. Then I thought, why not put them on YouTube so a wider audience could access them.”
Initially, Ed’s videos answered questions around common medical issues such as heart attacks and meningitis, but a slight change in tone helped him find a wider audience.
“On YouTube at the moment there are two types of content; there are medical professionals making content that I would say is preachy - but they would say professional. Then you have vloggers who aren’t medical professionals but are giving their take on things. They typically get a lot more views because they’re more accessible but the information is not always right.
“When I saw this, I thought I’ve got to try to be that middle ground. I want people to be entertained but also fulfilled because they’re learning the right stuff – what we’d learn at medical school.”
Ed’s most popular video - a look at the medical scenes in Marvel film Dr Strange - has been watched 6.1 million times - viewing figures that compete with the most popular programmes on BBC Two or Channel 4.
What does he put his success down to?
“I worked in advertising before I did medicine so I know a lot of the basics about how to get a message across. I was on set for shooting adverts so I picked up how to make a video and how to edit it. That’s maybe one thing I take for granted. And also, I’m trying to do something different.”
Ed tries to spend one day a week making videos which he fits in alongside two days of teaching and two days working as a junior doctor in A&E. How have his colleagues and students reacted to his channel?
“At first everyone was slightly embarrassed, but now people want to talk about it. I still see it as a bit of fun really but the reaction has been brilliant. Although I should have really thought about the name a bit more because now I get people shouting ‘Sick Note’ at me as I walk along the corridors which makes it sound like I’m always off ill!”
Ed has subscribers from all over the world, with over 100,000 in the US, and as many in Canada, Germany and the Philippines as he has in the UK. What are his plans for the future?
“As long as I’ve got ideas I’m going to keep doing the channel. It’s got much bigger than I ever thought, and my aim to complete a lot of the video series I’ve started, and at some point I’ll revisit the medical student content because that’s what I do at Broomfield.”
The success of Dr Hope’s Sick Notes has seen Ed offered opportunities in the media, so has he been tempted to swap Broomfield’s A&E for the bright lights of the TV studio? “I’ve had various offers but decided not to pursue any of them because I prefer to focus on what’s worked for me. I think the strength of what I do as a teaching fellow is talking a lot about medicine with students and putting that information out to the wider pubic, and that isn’t what a lot of offers are.”