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Twin Cities doctor reaching millions of teens with vaping videos

Dr. Rose Marie Leslie, a resident physician at U of M, is getting nationwide attention for her TikTok videos that teach teens the dangers of e-cigarettes.

MINNEAPOLIS — In a small clinic in North Minneapolis, a budding celebrity is making her mark.

“I post my videos on TikTok. I usually post about one every day or two,” 2nd year U of M resident Dr. Rose Marie Leslie says.

TikTok, for those who’ve never heard of it, is a social media site that’s very popular among teens and young adults.

Dr. Leslie, 29, heard about the video platform through a friend and decided to give it a try.

“I started posting videos on my lunch break and at home after work,” Dr. Leslie says.

At first, the videos were all about being funny, and poking fun at life, Leslie says.

RELATED: 21-year-old from Brooklyn Park among those suffering lung damage linked to vaping

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They often portrayed jokes about working in the medical field and going through normal everyday problems.

Her videos attracted a few hundred views at first, but then Leslie started posting about health topics, and started sharing more about her life as a medical resident.

“That’s when the videos sort of took off and got a lot more views,” Dr. Leslie says.

She soon realized many of the younger users on TikTok had an interest in health care.

So, she decided to use her new platform to teach them about one of the biggest health problems teens now face, e-cigarettes.

“It’s very relevant right now and it’s affecting a lot of people,” Dr. Leslie says.

Pretty soon her videos went from thousands of views to millions of views.

One video in particular now has more than three and a half million views.

“The lung x-ray I showed in that video is very worrisome and the visual of that really grabbed people’s attention,” Dr. Leslie says.

RELATED: National conference in Minneapolis works to end tobacco use

The x-ray in this video was released by the CDC and it shows a stark contrast between a healthy set of lungs and a set of lungs of a teenager who was recently hospitalized after vaping.

“Normal lung tissue should be dark like that,” Dr. Leslie says in the video. “But the lungs here are completely whited out on both sides. You can hardly even see the border of the heart. That’s a pretty gnarly chest x-ray.”

The video also brought in millions of likes and thousands of comments.

“I’ve had multiple people contact me directly and say, ‘you know, I’ve decided to quit using e-cigarettes because I’ve seen your videos.’ And one said, ‘I’m going to talk to my dad about this, because he uses e-cigarettes and I’m worried.’ The information is making a lot of people think about the issue differently,” Dr. Leslie says.

Her TikTok profile has nearly 200,000 followers, many of them teens, who statistics show, are more likely to use e-cigarettes.

“I felt like this was a space where there are millions of adolescents who are directly impacted by this and I thought, this might be a good way to reach them,” Dr. Leslie says.

She plans to use her new platform to share even more videos about vaping and other health problems teens face.

Dr. Leslie doesn’t know why her videos are suddenly resonating among young users, but she says it might have something to do with her role as a resident.

She says like many of her viewers she too is still figuring things out.
"I'm in a place where I'm still learning and growing,” Dr. Leslie says.

“To be able to take those nuggets of information that I learn and share them in a way that makes sense to everyday people is something I'm really excited to continue doing."

Dr. Leslie’s “magic formula” for reaching teens is now getting national attention.

Rolling Stone magazine recently wrote an article about her and Leslie says she was recently interviewed by a national correspondent at ABC.

To find her videos on TikTok, you can find her under the profile @DrLeslie

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