Welcome to Creators on the Rise, where—in partnership with global creator company Jellysmack—we find and profile breakout creators who are in the midst of extraordinary growth.
Miki Rai wants people to know what it’s like to be in her shoes.
Or, rather, in her scrubs.
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Rai is one of a growing number of healthcare professionals on YouTube and TikTok who share looks at their everyday lives. But while that sprang up as a growing trend during the pandemic, Rai has been making educational content about her job for years. She started on Instagram (where she currently has 625,000 followers), then expanded to YouTube because posting photos with captions wasn’t enough room to capture the day-in-the-life feel she wanted.
“There is a lot of misinformation as well as mystery about what healthcare providers do for a living, and I didn’t see content that reflected an accurate depiction of what our lives are like,” she says.
So, she started making it herself.
Rai uploaded her first nursing-related videos in 2018, with in-depth looks at how she got into her dream school (UCLA), tips on handling long night shifts, what she carries in her nursing bag, and what being “on call” is like. She still makes these longer, vlog-style videos (now costarring her boyfriend Kevin, who’s a doctor), but these days also makes around five videos a week on YouTube Shorts.
It’s not hard to see why she’s focused on short-form: Her very first Short, posted in 2021, was a comedic recreation of introducing Kevin to her parents, and it went viral, amassing nearly 40 million views.
Rai says the point of posting her videos on YouTube (where she has 972K subscribers) and TikTok (2.4 million followers) is not only to show people what nursing is like from the inside, but also “to document my own memories.”
In her years as a creator, she’s fallen “deeply in love with the art of creation, video editing, and interating with those who related to me,” she says.
Check out our chat with her below.
Tubefilter: So first, tell us a little about you! Where are you from? What did you get up to before launching your channel?
Miki Rai: I was born in Japan, and moved to America when I was three years old. My parents are from Taiwan, so growing up, my parents had a system where on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays I spoke Mandarin, and on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturdays, I spoke Japanese. I grew up in the Bay area and eventually ended up at UCLA (my dream school) as a nursing major. I started creating content in undergrad and continue to document my journey as a nurse and creator on YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram. I primarily focus on creating content geared towards medical professionals, couples, and the AAPI community.
Tubefilter: As anyone who watches your videos will know, you’re a registered nurse. What made you want to become a medical professional? What made you choose nursing specifically?
MR: I think humans feel most fulfilled when you give yourself away in the service of others. Since a young age, I was always interested in a career that would give the opportunity to combine my love for science and supporting others, and there really is no better way to do that than a career in healthcare!
Nursing is a career that combines critical thinking, leadership, delegation, prioritization, and requires the highest levels of empathy, compassion, and care. It’s also uniquely a job that is incredibly flexible—you can change specialties at any time, there are lots of opportunities to work part-time or add on extra shifts, and there are opportunities in the hospital, clinic, cruise ship, and planes, you name it.
Tubefilter: You started your YouTube channel way, way back in 2010, but didn’t start regularly making content until 2019. What was the catalyst for you deciding to make regular videos?
MR: Prior to starting on YouTube, I was creating lots of educational content on Instagram. Back in the day, photo content was king and the best way to provide insight into nursing and healthcare in general was through a written caption.
I initially started YouTube because I wanted to create a long-form, in-depth video detailing the “day in the life of a nurse.” There is a lot of misinformation as well as mystery about what healthcare providers do for a living, and I didn’t see content that reflected an accurate depiction of what our lives are like. I created those videos for others, but also to document my own memories. I was deeply in love with the art of creation, video editing, and interacting with those who related to me.
From there, I expanded to vlogs, Q&As, and other topics that captured not only my identity as a nurse, but the rest of me as well.
Tubefilter: How has COVID impacted your life as a nurse? How have things changed at your job in the past two years?
MR: The last two years have been challenging for all of us alike. My role does not directly interact with COVID-positive patients, and I have always been very fortunate to have access to PPE. It seems weird to think back to the beginning, when I would get one N95 and one regular mask a day when I arrived at work. I saved all of my N95s in a bag, because I was scared one day I might not have any left. My partner Kevin is a frontline resident physician, and out of fear that he may bring something home, we would disinfect all of our belongings and remove our outside clothes before entering our home.
Because of COVID, many patients did not receive the medical care that they usually receive, and treatments have been significantly delayed. Now that things are opening up again, we are seeing the aftermath of lack of access to healthcare. Many hospitals and clinics across the country are slammed, and incredibly short-staffed. After working tirelessly throughout this pandemic, many healthcare workers are exhausted and have left the field altogether.
On the positive side, I do think the pandemic has expedited the process for healthcare to move virtual and digital. Many people now have access to their care teams via Zoom or other platforms, which can increase accessibility of care and patient compliance.
Tubefilter: What made you want to share your life and job with the internet? What inspires you to make videos?
MR: I am an introvert and homebody, so in real life I typically skip out on social events and usually am very quiet in group settings. Speaking to a camera, however, feels like an intimate chat with a close friend. My subscribers and followers are like my closest friends, and have given me a community that I can depend on. Through social media, I’ve been able to connect with friends all around the world who share the same interests as I do!
Tubefilter: How does video-making fit into your daily schedule? Obviously as a nurse you’ve got a hectic job, so how do you find time to make videos? What does the average day look like for you in terms of how long you’re on shift, how much time you spend working on videos, etc?
MR: I think there is always time for the things that matter. It is my preference to cluster my work shifts and then cluster content creation days. On filming days, I typically batch at least four to five videos, and then schedule them to go live throughout the week. My schedule as a nurse is relatively flexible, but the hours tend to be very long, and I’m often running around all day with little to no breaks. On days I am working as a nurse, I often roll right into bed after I get home, so I typically do not do any filming or editing.
Tubefilter: What do you think draws people to your videos? Is there anything you try to specifically do to bring people in, or do you think your audience has sort of found you naturally?
MR: I think people are most interested in another person’s content when they feel it relates to them. I make a lot of videos discussing my identity as an Asian American, as a healthcare worker, and as a girlfriend, and those who choose to subscribe typically fall into those buckets as well.
In terms of analytics, watch time is most important to me and the YouTube algorithm. My short-form videos average watch times over 100%, which means people are replaying them. I think the longer you are able to keep someone engaged with watching your video, the more likely they are to convert into a subscriber.
Tubefilter: Your channel has recently seen a big boost in views and subscribers. Do you know if there was a specific video that took off and helped boost your growth, or was it a rise across all your videos?
MR: I think my bread and butter is in creating short-form videos between 10 and 15 seconds. While I’ve always had steady subscriber growth on my channel, when YouTube introduced Shorts, that’s when I started to see massive growth on my channel, averaging 30-60k subscribers a month. I credit a lot of my growth to “My BF meets my Asian Parents” and pay transparency videos such as “How much healthcare workers make.”
Whenever a platform pushes out new features, I’m always on board to adapt and try new things. If you can ride the wave before it starts, it often gives you an advantage while there is less competition.
Tubefilter: How have things changed for you, personally and professionally, since your channel started taking off? Have you had any cool opportunities?
MR: Thanks to social media, I’ve had opportunities I never even dreamed of having. I’m incredibly lucky to have signed with my brilliant manager Brittany from Select Management Group, who was integral in helping me work with brands I love, such as Disney, NEIWAI, FIGS, Infinit,i and much more.
We also recently launched a Good Morning Besties Bar with the YouTube Shorts team, and it was surreal to see Kevin, our pup Lucky and myself on a real-life cheesecake bar. But above anything else, the greatest gift I’ve gotten is being able to make real-life connections with industry leaders and creators both in and out of the healthcare industry.
Tubefilter: Do you have any plans or goals for your channel for the rest of this year? Any projects you can share?
MR: I often think about the 10 to 20 minutes a subscriber takes out of their week to watch our videos. Their time is a gift, and in return, my goal is always to provide the highest value I can with the content I create. Whether it’s videos about financial literacy, working in healthcare, or an everyday vlog, we are constantly working on providing educational value and hoping our audience leaves the video feeling better than they came in.
In terms of exciting projects…We JUST let our subscribers know that this year we will have the opportunity to intermittently live in different parts of the world while Kevin is on research year. We’ve decided on the first three countries we will be visiting this year, and will look forward to creating travel content in parts of Asia, where many of our subscribers reside! Many other secrets I can’t quite share yet…but please subscribe to follow along, because you won’t want to miss it!
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