There’s never a dull moment in pediatrics.
One moment, Dr. Nikki Gorman may advise a new mother why children should not play with magnets. The next, she may tell a teenager it’s okay to have a same-gender crush.
Of course, not everyone has a Dr. Nikki (as she likes to be called) — or access to a practice like Village Pediatrics on Riverside Avenue.
So Dr. Nikki is reaching out to a wider group of parents, children and teens. And she’s meeting them on their turf: TikTok and Instagram.
Growing up in Palos Verdes, California, Dr. Nikki loved performing. She also knew she wanted to work with kids. Pediatrics was a natural career. Acting fell by the wayside.
She and her then-husband, a cardiologist, came to Westport 19 years ago. She joined Dr. Jerry Lieberman’s Weston practice. As he wound down his practice, Dr. Gorman and her partner Dr. Jennifer Gruen established Village Pediatrics.
She realized that the important information she was conveying reached only a tiny fraction of people who needed to hear it. For years she thought about writing a board book, with real but lighthearted messages on everything from sleep and feeding to sex and drugs.
“When you give birth, you don’t know what your baby will turn out to be,” Dr. Nikki notes.
“You may have a tough toddler. There may be middle school drama, illness and family strife. When you look at your beautiful newborn, you can’t predict any of that. But every parent will face challenges.”
Yet a board book might not be the way to reach a new generation of parents, Dr. Gorman recognized.
“Young parents in their 20s and 30s have ADD — and I don’t mean that in a negative way,” she says.
“They see flashes of things. Their brain is trained to move quickly from one thing to another.” Conveying her messages in quick video bursts on social media platforms would be key to getting her messages across.
They were also likely to be discovered and appreciated by people far beyond Dr. Nikki’s Westport office.
During a new mothers presentation for Malta House — the Norwalk non-profit serving homeless pregnant women and new mothers — she discussed the need for vitamin D supplements during nursing.
“Some mothers might not know that,” she says. “If they see it on TikTok, they’ll learn. And they’ll share it with their friends.”
Dr. Nikki was not a TikTok user. But Zibrille Pepito — her office scribe, who works remotely from the Philippines — is. She was happy to help.
She tutored her boss in how to set the camera, where and when to point — in other words, how to be a TikTok star.
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TikTok videos can’t be longer than 90 seconds. Instagram videos must be at least a minute. Dr. Nikki aims for that sweet spot in between, so the same video can be posted to both platforms.
“People love them,” she says of her return to performing. “The audience is growing. We haven’t even sent them out to our practice yet.”
She tries to post one video a day. She films during downtime between patients — and can do several at a time.
Dr. Nikki has no problem finding topics. “I just think about what goes on during each visit. That’s the joy of pediatrics: You see people from 0 to 22 years old.’
Meanwhile, they and their parents see their pediatrician on their favorite social media sites.
Along with everyone else, anywhere on the planet.
You can follow Dr. Nikki on TikTok @drnikki_ and on Instagram: drnikkigorman.
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What an enlightened pediatrician, meeting her patients and their parents where they “are” (online) with relevant and appropriate messages. We were fortunate to have had terrific pediatricians for our sons (Dr Lieberman, Dr Gorman’s original partner here being one of them). I’m going to pass this along to a few millennials with young children, but I’m guessing her reach might just get further then our little area here before long. I hope so anyway! Thanks for posting, Dan.
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Dr. Nikki and the team at Village is a wonderful part of this community. She’s helped guide us in the six years since our daughter was born and my daughters love going to their office, meeting Dr. Bill and visiting with the rest of the wonderful team (which was not my experience as a kid). It’s awesome that now the whole world gets to hear Dr. Nikki’s clear, kid-centered, science-forward messages!