INSIGHTS: Voices + Views Maryann Youssef, OD, Is All About Educating and Traveling By Stephanie Sengwe, Contributing Editor Thursday, August 8, 2019 9:00 AM Dr. Maryann Youssef may be a novice to the social media game but judging by her page, she’s got the formula figured out. A graduate of the Western University of Health Sciences, this Florida native created Doctor.Maryann eight months ago in an effort to connect with patients outside the exam room. Since then, the page has garnered over 1,000 followers and counting. “I started my Instagram page as a way to share my passion with patients outside of the exam room,” she explained. “At least once a day, I have a patient say, ‘Wow, I never knew you could check all of that in an eye exam!’ Optometry is undervalued, and that is in part due to the lack of education we provide to our patients. I'm trying to do my small part in changing that.” Indeed, Dr. Youssef’s page is comprised of mostly educational posts. From retinal detachments, frame and dietary tips as well as fun facts about eyes, Dr. Youssef makes sure that her followers have a range of information on frequently asked questions. Though she initially wanted to reach patients only, the page has evolved and is geared toward fellow ECPs and optometry students who often share their input and experiences in her comment sections. In addition to her educational posts, Dr. Youssef also shares a lot of her travels on her page. While she loves to educate her followers, she wants patients to be able to relate to her on a more personal level, not just as another body in a white coat. She has documented her rendezvous to places such as Koko Head in Honolulu, Kerry Cliffs in Ireland as well as other local spots such as Carlsbad in her current home state, California. “I find that traveling is always a truly humbling experience and has shaped me into the person and doctor I am today. I try to add personal and lifestyle posts to be more relatable. I think it's important for people to see the ‘person behind the doctor.’”When it comes to curating content, Dr. Youssef hones in on topics she finds her patients asking most frequently. Because authenticity comes first, Dr. Youssef updates the page only when she sees that a topic has come up enough times and is relevant enough to cover. “Currently, I don’t have any set schedule for updating my page. I post when something comes to mind that I think will be useful to my viewers and when I have the time to do it. I don’t like to post anything for the sake of posting. I want my posts to be of value and quality, not just for frequency. On the other hand, I do post daily on my stories,” she said.Though being active on social media hasn’t proven to be too much of a challenge for Dr. Youssef, the most rewarding part for her is the fact that she gets to help patients and students alike, regardless of their proximity to her. “I believe serving others is the secret to a happy life, and my Instagram page is one way I try to do that. I love hearing feedback from my followers about how much they've learned or how they're looking forward to their eye exam now that they understand what is going on. I also enjoy helping students reach their goals in any way that I can. I remember how difficult it was for me to find an optometrist to talk to when I was a pre-optometry student, so I try to be accessible,” she concluded.