Humans of Medicine – Sarah Rav

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi! I’m Sarah, and I’m currently in Year 4C. Outside of medicine, I have a keen interest in health and wellness, particularly nutrition and weight training. In my spare time, I am constantly listening to music. I can’t make music, nor can I play it, but I just love listening to it. Music makes life that much better. I also love meeting new people and catching up with friends over brunch!

Tell us about your Instagram. 

I started my Instagram account about 6 years ago and it has been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. It started out primarily as a fitness account, but it has since transitioned to being more lifestyle-based. This has enabled me to raise awareness about issues I’m passionate about, and to share many more aspects of my life with my followers, such as my favourite cafes & food (I’m a huge foodie!), workouts and brands that I adore. The account has garnered a bit of a following since it started, and I’m very fortunate that it’s given me a platform to connect with people, both within Australia and internationally. I’ve also met some of my best friends through Instagram, who I wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to meet otherwise. A lot of these friends don’t study medicine, so they’re able to give me a really different, refreshing outlook on life. When I’m feeling particularly stressed about something academically related, they keep me grounded and give me perspective.

How does Instagram fit into your daily routine?

My routine tends to vary, but on an ideal day, I’ll wake up and go to the gym, where I’ll usually take a photo, or film a video for Instagram. Depending on how much time I have before placement starts, I’ll spend 1-2 hours going through the DMs and emails that arrive in my inbox overnight. There can be up to 50 emails with invitations for collaborations, so I’ll always sift through the ‘ab-stimulator machines’ or ‘weight loss pills’ that I have absolutely no desire to endorse! I’m usually home from placement at around 5pm, and this is when I’ll upload my posts, usually content that I’ve spent most of the weekend shooting. I’ll then spend 30 minutes to 1 hour online afterwards to respond to comments and to assess whether or not the post is well-received.  Instagram takes up a lot of time, and in that sense, it’s a full-time job, but I don’t mind it at all! 

What is something you’ve observed about Instagram that people might not know? 

I’m really grateful that this is still a viable job for me, but for the most part, Instagram is a relatively quiet platform now. It’s increasingly hard to grow a following nowadays, and I am constantly losing followers on a daily basis. Just like so many other social media platforms have reached their peak, such as MSN and Facebook, in the same vein, I don’t think there’s much future in Instagram. At this point, however, I’m not interested in numbers. I care more about creating an impact, and promoting a positive message to the wonderful followers that I do have. 

What have been your favourite brands to work with? 

That’s very hard to pick, but something that does make brands more enjoyable to work with is if they allow me creative freedom. Botanica Blends, for example, which is a vegan protein powder company, allows me to do my own thing with my photos and videos, which I appreciate because it allows me to be creative, and inject my personality into the content. Above all, I want to be genuine in what I promote, and this is why I love working with them. I also love all the brunch places that I work with, because they give me the unique opportunity to eat and connect with my friends. They literally force me to socialise! 

What is your dream brand to collaborate with? 

Apple! All of my products are Apple, so I am well embedded into the Apple family. Apple, if you’re reading this, please send me your iPhone 12! 

Would you like to share a bit about your experience with an eating disorder? 

So, I would say that I’ve had an eating disorder since year 8, but I didn’t receive an official diagnosis until 2018. I had just started third year, which I would say is a pretty big transition from pre-clinical years. I remember being concerned about how I was going to balance running an Instagram account, going to Dandenong hospital everyday, and maintaining my gym routine. I felt that everything around me was out of control, and because of that, I began to focus on the factors that I could control – diet and exercise – and became really strict with myself. I didn’t see it as a problem, and eventually I got to the point where I was at a BMI of 10 and weighed 29kg. 

I was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, which helped me to realise that I couldn’t continue this lifestyle if I wanted to have a healthy future, or even a future at all! Since then, it’s been a ridiculously difficult, emotional road to recovery. I stayed as an inpatient for one week, and started working with a psychologist, GP and dietician for the purposes of weight restoration and psychotherapy. 

There was definitely a point where I blamed myself. I remember thinking ‘why couldn’t I have been stronger?’, and I think that this is one of the worst parts about having a mental illness. My journey is now one of the topics that I talk about most on social media. I hope that others will see it and realise that it’s a serious condition, and that it’s okay to be open about it, to talk about it and to seek help. 

You can read more about Sarah’s battle with anorexia nervosa here

What’s been your favourite moment during medicine? 

Again, this is very hard to pick, but one of my favourite days was actually earlier this year. It was on one of the Fridays when the hospital was extremely short-staffed due to COVID, and I was scheduled onto a Caesarean section list with just the registrar and the consultant. Unfortunately, the registrar cut herself on the first case of the day, and had to proceed with all the safety protocols, which meant that by default, I became the first assist! It was really cool being able to get hands-on experience, and to stitch and suture and make incisions. 

What are three traits you admire in people? 

I’ve worked hard for everything I’ve achieved, so personally, I find it really refreshing to meet someone who also possesses drive and ambition. I also strongly admire kindness as a trait in others. I have these two friends who stand out in this respect, because they are so genuinely kind and caring, and that infectious warmth makes me want to be a better person. Lastly, I value it when people have insight and perspective, and can consider the bigger picture (which is much easier said than done, because I am definitely guilty of freaking out over something small like an OCE or tutorial presentation!).

What changes would you like to see for the future of medicine? 

The change I want to see actually stems from my experiences as an inpatient. Although I understand that there is a need for strict hospital protocols, especially those with eating disorders, there were times where I felt like my treatment was dehumanising. I wasn’t allowed to walk for an entire week, for example, which meant that when I needed to go to the bathroom, I would be wheeled in. Sometimes, the nurse would forget about me, and I’d be sitting there for 15 minutes. Additionally, I only saw the treating team twice for the duration of my stay, and I felt like I didn’t have much say in my treatment. I was kept in the dark, with no idea what was going on. Given that at the time, I didn’t even realise I had an eating disorder, I was terrified. It’s because of this that I’m hoping we can see even more integration of compassionate patient-centered treatment in the future.

If you’d like to know more about Sarah’s journey and experiences, visit the following links: 

Sarah’s IGTV series 

The Mentor Project w/ Fahad Khan – Sarah Rav – The Pursuit of Perfection

Humans of Purpose – 132 Sarah Rav: Healthy Influence



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