In 2015 I was scrolling along in my Facebook feed and stumbled upon a Taylor Swift parody called “Bad Skin”. It is a hilarious music video that warns of the dangers of skin cancer. After giggling, my first thought was this guy is on point with his medical info. Granted it was made by someone called ZDoggMD but I did not even consider that he was a real physician. Maybe a nurse but that was still iffy because creating such a visual, outspoken presence on social media can be dangerous. Nurses have been fired for less. I just couldn’t imagine a doctor posting medical music video parodies and his employer embracing the idea. Turns out not only is he a real physician, Zdogg MD has become a true inspiration to myself and many others.
Zubin Damania MD is an internist (a fancy general practitioner in medical speak). He is highly educated. He completed his undergraduate degree at Berkeley; studying both molecular biology and music. He then went on to University of California, San Francisco to complete his medical education. He even gave the commencement speech at his graduation in 1999. It was so popular it made NPR’s “The Best Commencement Speeches, Ever” list. I didn’t know this was a thing.
The thing about Dr. Z is that comedy was always a big part of his life. He ran a website called medschool.com where he streamed medical comedy routines. He performed for drug companies, hospitals, and other medical organizations. He was able to integrate this into his life while he worked as a hospitalist. As time went on, he became frustrated with the many barriers that doctors and healthcare workers face daily. He began writing and performing musical parodies as the character ZDoggMD. He uploaded these to YouTube and it didn’t take long for them to connect with an audience.
As Dr. Z’s fanbase has exploded, his words have become exponentially louder. What once started as music videos to channel frustration has become a platform for both a healthcare revolution driven from the inside and sharing of knowledge that everyone can appreciate.
Dr. Z’s appeal is multifaceted. First I will share why he is so important to me as a nurse. Medicine is a hard job. There are not black and white decisions but a lot of gray ones. It is a hard position to be in. He openly acknowledges this and simply knowing that you are not alone helps when carrying the burden.
Working in medicine is a job where you do not have the option of being politically correct. Sometimes things are what they are and we can’t sugarcoat it. Obesity is obesity. It makes people sick and we have to address it. We have to talk about addiction and face it head on. We have to talk about death. It is our job to care for people in all states of wellness, sickness, and stages of life. It is a disservice not to be honest with the people in our care.
He is a champion for the entire HEALTHCARE TEAM. From the top of the chain down to departments people don’t typically think about such as environmental services or dietary. This is why his fanbase (aka, the Zpack), is diehard and wildly varied in the positions that they hold. He is not afraid to stand up for any department.
Speaking of which, he talks about issues that administrations typically like to keep quiet. Did you know that nurses are often physically or even sexually assaulted by patients? Even myself, a women weighing in at less than 130lbs, was slammed against a wall by a large man and then cornered in the room until I could talk myself out of the situation. That was only one of several incidents were I was physically threatened.
Lastly, he is working to empower the healthcare workers to change the system from the inside. We all know it’s broken. We have yet to receive help from government regardless of the political party. We need to help our patients and we need to do it now.
Now let me tell you why you should look up Dr. Zubin Damania even if you don’t work in the medical field. While ZDoggMD still makes appearance in really fun and educational music videos, Dr. Z shares incredibly informative, down-to-earth videos that contain knowledge that is beneficial to anyone that has a living, breathing body. His goal is not to be the next big celebrity doctor. He does not talk in medical terms that you won’t understand. He isn’t trying to sell you tea to help you lose weight. He is a normal person trying to make a real difference. Listen to him. Learn about the sneaky ways insurance get by with surprise billing. Get truthful, unbiased information on COVID-19. See why the experience of your healthcare visits has changed since electronic medical records have wormed its way in (I’m looking at you Epic.)
I think that this may be the first person to ever be inducted into The Hall that is not a fictional character or a “traditional” celebrity of some kind. I can also say that it is my greatest honor to add Zubin Damania MD to The TBK Magazine Hall. You are a real life hero. Thank you for fighting for us when no one else will listen. Thank you for encouraging us to keeping going during the bad times. Thanks for actually giving us factually correct information when there is so much muddled nonsense to wade through. Thank you for letting us know we are not alone. Thanks for being true to yourself and continuing to put out videos. I am proud to be a member of ZDoggMD’s Zpack. Welcome to The Hall, Dr. Z!