A Chat With Internet's Hottest Doctor
Smart. Sexy. Social. Instagram sensation Dr. Mike puts his looks, mind and fame to good use
Mikhail Varshavski, mostly known by his catchy nickname Dr. Mike, seems to be a man taken right from the picture book: He is a young doctor working in New York City.
He runs his own charity organisation Limitless Tomorrow, giving scholarships to motivated young people in need. He was also named Sexiest Doctor Alive by People Magazine.
Yes ladies, he is real, and he has lot of good to offer.
Would you share with us your career path since you graduated from school?
During High School I did a 7 year combined programme, 3 years of undergraduate studies at University and 4 years of medical school. Most of the time in America you do 4 years of undergraduate study and then you apply for medical school. But I did it in a continuous 7 years, so I am the youngest doctor in my hospital because of that. I spend a lot of time on social media to combine the platform with my medical work. No one has done that before, it is something completely new that people haven’t really spoken about. Social media is a place for people to take selfies, yes. But I want to do something different and use it to help patients and educate people on certain diseases and explain to them how to live a healthy lifestyle. It is also a way to help people that are still going to school to get them excited about medicine. Because what I saw were a lot of young students who would lose their motivation to go into medical school because they thought it was too hard and they had to give up their social lives in order to become a doctor. Now I want to prove that this is not true. So I document my days all the time, from doing events to visiting fashion shows and going to the hospital on the next day and work a really long shift. It is a really unique experience and I am really excited about it.
Some magazines call you The Hottest Doctor on Instagram and last year People Magazine even named you Sexiest Doctor Alive. What do these titles mean to you?
I think It is crazy because when I grew up, I had no female intention. Literally none. It was kind of funny actually, being a nerd when you grow up and now having a little more attention than that. People Magazine is such a huge publication. When I got their email announcing me Sexiest Doctor Alive, I didn't know if it was a joke because I couldn't believe it at first. But I have been able to make positive use of that title and turn it into something helpful and fun for my patients and myself. We can laugh about it, take a picture together and discuss their health without me shouting “LOOK, I AM A HOT GUY!”
How do you explain your success on social media, especially on Instagram? How does it feel to have 2 million people following your life?
I think that having 2 million followers is not something I have expected. When I created my social media accounts 4 years ago, I just wanted to show the small world what it was like to be in social media. After time went by, there were 100s of thousands and eventually even a million of people following me. I started to take it more seriously, taking my captions more carefully, and educate people on things. What I found was that it doesn't bother or interfere with my privacy. I live my life very openly with my friends and the people in the hospital and I show that I have nothing to hide. I think that's how we should be. There are people who think that I am a doctor, I don't drink alcohol, I don't go out, I don't celebrate events with my friends. I think that is not realistic, and the patients really sense that. If I am not open to them about my life, they are not open to me and don't give me all the information I need about their health. Because if I don’t' know there are certain risks, I won't do certain checks. The more I know about my patients, the more I can help them, and the more they trust me, the more likely they are to follow my instructions. If I tell them to do a certain thing but they are not following my advice, what’s the use then?
Having 2 millions of fans, do you carefully pick the correct content to post?
I don't really think about the correct post. I am completely myself, what you see is 100% raw, maybe I will check the grammar a little more carefully than I used to before, but in general I am just sharing my personality and honestly, I think that is where I got my popularity from. I am openly showing my life happening the way it is. I would show my dog, I would show my dad and people will respond to that and I think that's where a lot of success comes from.
Do any patients fake injuries just to see you?
A lot of people come to see me because because of social media but not because of fake injuries. I am a prevention doctor, so you don't really have to see me when you are injured or something is wrong with you. You can come to me while you are healthy and together we can prevent you from getting sick. We can do designation or cancer screenings to keep you healthy. So I have a lot of patients who are coming in now because of my social media thing, and more often than not we actually are in a situation where we can catch and treat diseases like cancer early. They probably would have never went to see a doctor and the sickness might have been discovered too late if they wouldn't have come to the hospital because of me. So it is crazy to say but a selfie can really bring something positive to the world.
Not only are you a successful doctor, you are also regular public speaker and guest in TV shows, fashion parties and lifestyle events, all just at the age of 26. Do you never sleep?
I do sleep. It is tough. My secret is that I organize my day in a sense that if I know I have an hour in somewhere I always fill it with something that will benefit my brain. I might be exhausted after my work and I have only 2 hours free for myself. But I will make sure I do something that engages my brain because on the next day at work I am happy not because I am well rested, I am happy because I have experienced a lot. It is a common concept that people need to follow the call of the couch and just turn off the brain after a long day of work. But the things that are great for your muscles and your body are not always great for you mental health as well. You have to keep your brain always active because your brain wants to be always active and that is why I am going to events and meet people. Fashion wasn't something that I have always been involved in, nor was sport. I always like to put myself out of my comfort zone and when I do that I conquer whatever it is that I may have done that day. It gives that war of feedback to my brain and that's where I get my happiness from.
Can you share with us your workout routine that keeps you fit for a long working day?
Absolutely. The no. 1 rule is being very social. The more likely you have someone else to go to the gym with, the more likely you will actually go. Because if I am tired and I go back home after work, no one is there to tell me “hey you must go”. But if I make a plan with my friends and I want to cancel it, they will motivate me and say I should really go.
The rule no. 2 is to be innovative. I don't like doing same thing every time. Like I don’t like lifting weights because it gets boring and your muscles will get used to it and you won't get much of a result the way you would if you mixed up every single routine. So lately what I have been doing is I have been finding interesting friends who like interesting sports like rock climbing or tennis and I try to pick up the new sports. And what I have learnt when I picked up the new sport is that if my muscles are not trained well, they are definitely going to be solid next day.
In late 2015 your efforts of helping people left the hospital walls and reached new heights when you founded the Limitless Tomorrow Foundation. Can you tell us more about this initiative?
Something that I have been incredibly passionate about when social media came to life was really figuring out how I could use that outreach for something positive. I have been able to maintain a good education and also maintain a good social platform where I meet my friends and hang out with them, spend time with family. They were not many things I worried about in school. The only thing I was worried about were grades. While I was in the top 20 students, the scholarships all went to the top 10 and I thought that was unfair. What I saw was that students with the most well rounded education actually succeeded the most when they went outside to the workplace. So I decided to come up with a foundation based on individuals and who they are as people, not on grades. When a patient comes into the office, I don’t look at them and say that is a diabetes patient, I look at them as a whole. And I feel I should do the same for awarding a scholarship, so we created the Limitless Tomorrow Foundation. Earlier this year we did a day for charity and raised a hundred thousand dollars. Not only that, we also received hundreds of applications for our scholarships. And this is only just me and my friend doing it. It is really time consuming but worth it when you are able to help someone who is just not able to reach their goal just because of financial barrier. I think money should not stand in the way of achieving your dream, especially when your dream is helping the society. So this is what moral is all about.
Social Media is a quick way to spread messages amongst hundreds of thousands of people. Do you think becoming famous on Instagram has helped you influence others for good?
I think that social media has a superficial exercise. I think that we haven't figured out how to use it properly yet because it is still new. Although there are billions of people on social media we have yet to figure out how we can use it for good. I think right now many people like Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian are in the world. They do their best on social media because they share the most interactive photos, are the easiest to follow, and their videos give information to their followers quickly and personally, and I feel like we need to take that advantage to doctors, lawyers and educators. Because if it works for entertainment it should also work the same way for education, right?.So what I am doing now is every time I make an educational video or even a video for, let's say breast cancer awareness, I don’t just stand in front of the camera and say this is why you should go to see a doctor. I make a funny video that also at the same time educates and promotes breast cancer awareness. You need to take little bit of the superficial side of social media side and apply it to the educational side to make it work.
How do you see the process that printed media has been slowly converting into social media?
I don’t think print is going anywhere anytime soon, they came out with new newspapers not so long ago when people already thought printed newspapers were dead. But really what I respect about magazine writers and newspaper writers is that they are always the ones who do the best research, the most accurate research, and from there all the news spread to social media. I think we can live together in a world where magazines and newspapers actually create the material and bring the news while social media just spreads the word. So for example, GQ is a very fabulous magazine company, but I don’t think that would still be alive today without their social media platform. But I don’t think they can exist sorely just on social media as well. You need a base of having a magazine. And having social media as a benefit is a bonus I would say.
How do you see social media perform thus far?
When social media first started up, there were just pictures in good quality. There were no messages behind, there were just people posting their daily lives. Now social media has exploded into something like an advertising field where people are trying to push products and explain why a product is the best. I think that what I want to have are people using their influence on social media for doing good in the world. That’s why anytime if there’s any sort of event in New York City I try to get involved. Just yesterday we attended an event for a breast cancer walk and we raised over 3 million dollars! I think this is amazing and it was only possible with the use of social media because we got people motivated, we got them excited. It was a beautiful day in New York City and perfect for them to take a picture to share among social media. If you leverage on social media in exciting and creative ways you can make wonderful things like that happen.
You moved from Russia to America when you were 6 years old. Do you still travel back to Russia every once in a while or has America become your home?
I have never been Russia since I have left. I came here late 1995 and I would say I have been living in New York my whole life. I can only remember Russia slightly because when you are 4 or 5 years old you are not making much memories, but I feel like New York is my home although I respect Russia as my parents' country of origin. I do speak Russian with my family. I think it is good to be raised in a mixed culture as it makes everyone an even more rounded person.
What are your life principles that you would like to share with us?
My life principle No.1 to stay balanced, No.2 is to know yourself. Because there is nothing you could accomplish without knowing yourself. Whether it is choosing a new hobby, choosing a job, or finding a partner that you want to spend the rest of your life with, you can’t do that unless you know yourself. A lot of people ask how do I know myself, how do I know I like to do certain things? The only way you know is to get out of your comfort zone and try it. I was never a public speaker, I was nervous when I had to talk in front of people. But then I started doing it and I felt that I really liked it. So I think it is important to stay outside of your comfort zone, figure out what you really enjoy and explore the world around you. That makes the true success stories.
Any message you would like to share with young people who want to follow your footsteps?
Don’t let anybody else guide you. Make decisions for yourself and go out and explore whatever things that you think you really enjoy.