Dumebi Okocha leverages her unexpected ‘medfluencer’ platform for good
Roos don’t just dream, they do. Our students turn ideas into action every day. Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about.
Anticipated graduation year: May 2024
UMKC degree program: B.A./M.D.
Hometown: Waxhaw, North Carolina
As the daughter of a physician and a nurse practitioner, pursuing a medical career was a natural path for Dumebi Okocha.
“I always saw my dad coming back from work and I was always interested in the cases he was seeing, even though I didn’t know what he was talking about. My mom is a nurse practitioner, so I come from a strong health sciences background,” she said.
She applied to UMKC because of its six-year accelerated B.A./M.D. program, which would allow her to become a physician faster and save money. When she found herself stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, Okocha did what many people her age do when boredom strikes: she made a TikTok video. She noticed there was not much awareness about accelerated medical programs like hers, so posted about it.
“I was just trying to show there were other, quicker, more cost-affordable options without the MCAT,” she said.
To her amazement, it racked up more than 50,000 likes.
“I was surprised. I just didn’t think anything of it at the time. When I started, I probably had 30 followers,” she said. “I was like, ‘Who are all these people?’ That’s when I was like, okay, if I post consistently, I think I can get a following.”
Soon her inbox was flooded with direct messages from students who had never heard of accelerated programs. It was then that Okocha saw an opportunity to change the face of medicine. She decided to expand her platform to talk about the medical field more broadly and encourage other people who are Black, first-generation Americans, first-generation college students or an under-represented minority to pursue medical careers, no matter if they chose a six-year track or another path.
“My goal overall is to be a face for what is possible and to use my privilege to help those who are not as privileged,” said Okocha. “Once they see a Nigerian-American girl in medical school doing her thing, I think it helps them say, ‘Okay, she’s doing it. She’s not perfect but she’s doing it, which means I can do it. I just have to find my way to success.’”
Okocha has since expanded her reach, with her highest-viewed video now reaching one million views. At first, she was nervous about her classmates and professors seeing her videos, but she says the feedback has been largely positive.
“I was getting too self-conscious thinking that if people are watching, I had to be perfect. But once I heard from administration that they liked my TikToks, I knew I was doing a good job,” she said.
In addition to being a medfluencer, Okocha is a UMKC School of Medicine ambassador, Region 2 secretary and the local chapter secretary of the Student National Medical Association, public relations representative for the OBGYN Interest Group and a member of Students Training in Academia, Health and Research (STAHR). Between her studies and her extracurricular commitments, Okocha said her social media presence can be a lot to balance, but she tries to keep things in perspective.
“I have to remember this is not my job, this is a hobby. When I place it like that, it’s not an obligation, it’s just for fun,” she said. “I think I laid the expectation that I’m not going to post every day and that’s okay. Around finals, I don’t really post. If I’m changing classes, I tend not to post in the beginning just so I can get my footing. I always put being a student first.”
Through it all, Okocha said she has learned how to manage multiple tasks, find creative solutions and appreciate all the professions of medicine. She hopes by sharing her journey, it will inspire others.
“You can have a life, you can go to med school and even if you have disadvantages stacked against you, there are ways around it, you just have to know those ways.”
Okocha said she plans to continue and expand her social media presence when she becomes a doctor.
“I feel like social media is the new way of getting information out to your patients and educating people,” she said. “My dream is to have a podcast. After I take my boards, I want to start working on that.”
MORE ABOUT DUMEBI
What is one word that best describes you and why?
I think I’m creative and organized. Every problem has a solution, you just have to be creative enough to find one. I wouldn’t say I’m artsy. I’m able to see a problem, figure out solutions and a plan and execute it.
What’s your favorite social media channel and why?
Definitely TikTok. I like Instagram too but don’t post much on there. There’s so many people on TikTok. There’s laughter, there’s education, it’s easy to use.
What’s your favorite spot to eat in Kansas City?
I like Crazy Crab, it’s a crab leg place on Broadway. I also like Q39 and I also like Nguyen’s Pho and Grill.
Where’s your favorite spot to hang out in Kansas City?
I really like to go to Westport. Anywhere in Westport is my vibe.
What’s your favorite spot on campus?
Miller Nichols Learning Center, they did a good job with that place. The Student Union as well.