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Dermatologist Neal Schultz, M.D., is doing his part to set the record straight. Frustrated by what he says is an Internet fraught with misinformation, Dr. Schultz and his 29-year-old son, Stuart, started DermTV.com, an online skincare video show dedicated to unbiased truth, he says.
Dr. Schultz, an assistant clinical professor, department of dermatology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, runs a cosmetic and medical dermatology practice on Park Avenue in Manhattan. He's the star and medical expert of DermTV; his son does the technical work and produces the shows. Over the past two years, the dermatologist has educated consumers in nearly 300 episodes on topics ranging from acne to Botox (onabotulinumtoxinA, Allergan), and he has answered about 3,000 questions personally. DermTV episodes and information appear not only on the show's website, but also on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
His popularity is growing. DermTV has attracted more than 1 million views and well over 2,000 "likes" on Facebook. Third parties have taken notice by licensing and syndicating episodes, and even Google via YouTube has partnered with the program.
He may make references to commercial products to illustrate a point, but he does not accept advertising revenue and only makes these references for educational purposes, he says.
"I think my claim to fame really has to do with accessibility and accountability. And it has to do with understanding that physicians are in the service business. Technical expertise is just a starting point; from there, (our role is to) give people a comfort level, the information that they need to make the right decisions and to make their problems (and their solutions) less intimidating," he says.
Some of DermTV's topics veer from the specialty. One of the episodes, for example, is about how it's normal to be nervous in a doctor's office. Each of the episodes features Dr. Schultz, usually sitting behind a desk and talking to the camera in a conversational tone.
"I can't save the world, but I can implement clarity and enlighten people about common skincare issues. That's why I do DermTV, and I just love it," he says.
Dr. Schultz, who co-authored the book It's Not Just About Wrinkles, says dermatologists who want to get involved in social media projects should enlist the help of experts in areas they don't fully understand, such as the technology aspects. They also have to be willing to make the time commitment. Dr. Schultz and his son produce several episodes at a time, one weekend each month.
"I'm doing this to try to help people, educate people," he says. "While it has resulted in my being recognized and quoted in different press and media, as a public service it's a good thing for dermatology."
Neal Schultz, M.D. Born: Brooklyn, N.Y., 1948
Medical degree: Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York
Medical internship & residency, dermatology residency: Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York
Hobbies: Loves to fly and is an instrument-rated pilot; studies and collects wines (favorite is a 1947 Château Cheval Blanc); tends to his farm in upstate New York
Family: One son