Medical professionals across the country are participating in dance challenges on social media. It’s helping them share smiles and blow off steam during the demanding coronavirus pandemic.
In scrubs and swag, nurse Kala Baker lip-syncs and dances in TikTok challenges to hits like “Savage” by Meg Thee Stallion at Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Missouri.
She has more than 35,000 followers after starting to share videos last month.
Baker says her challenges, which she films after clocking out, help create solidarity with health care professionals across the country, especially in states hit hardest by coronavirus. She sees it as a way to “bring joy to a really dark place right now.”
“I have never felt more connected with health care workers; we all feel like we are all one big team all over the world,” she explains.
“We are trying to do it together.”
Baker is not dancing alone. Stepping to Drake’s “Toosie Slide” or swaying on beat in TikTok’s popular #Leanwithitrockwithit challenge, health care professionals are using dance moves to entertain, inspire, and encourage each other.
Resident physician Jason Campbell from Oregon Health and Science University films his moves once work is done, usually after 10- to 12-hour days, he says.
“The videos are not meant to detract from or lessen the severity of the virus,” Campbell explains.
“They are meant to be a small reminder of simpler times and to give people a smile or a laugh — to potentially give people the only smile and laugh they have had in their day.”
Campbell, who says he’s an old-school Harlem-shake type of guy, says he began posting TikTok videos to inspire youth to pursue higher education. But after his video of the coronavirus “foot shake” struck a chord during the pandemic, he realized the need for more uplifting videos.
When the world watches
In Philadelphia, a team of nurses from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital nailed Ciara’s “Level Up” dance. Nurse Jeffrey Salvatore says they often play that song to get motivated at their drive-through testing site. The team started dancing to keep warm while testing outdoors.
“It brings us joy,” he tells CNN. “It lightens our spirits while we are testing outside in the cold and in the rain. It is a mechanism we are using to keep our spirits up.
“We are all facing the same fears. We have the fear of potentially getting the virus ourselves and potentially bringing it home to our loved ones,” Salvatore says.
“The more we take care of our fear and anxieties the better we are able to take care of our patients’ fears and anxieties.”
After posting their “Level Up” challenge on Instagram, the nurses earned a special shout-out from Ciara, herself.
“It was just mind-blowing,” he says.
Salvatore says Ciara’s repost sent their morale “through the roof.”
“She’s an example of the message we want to put out,” Salvatore says. “Her message is always about spreading positivity and spreading love and that’s what we are trying to do in a pandemic.”
But behind their crisp coordinated moves, these nurses are clear that their patients come first.
“We do not put videos before our job. Patient care is our priority,” Salvatore explains. “We do not waste any PPE or medical supplies when making these videos.”
Health care team to dance team
Brighton Peachey, an EMT in Salt Lake City, is preparing for a surge in coronavirus cases.
In addition to helping her colleagues cope, she hopes her video will “spread joy and make a few people smile.”
“I think everybody is being affected — every single person — by this virus,” Peachey tells CNN.
“If we can try and grab on to what little bits of positivity we can, it will just help bring people together and get us through these challenging times.”