The untold truth of Doctor Mike

Mikhail Varshavski, aka Doctor Mike, is everywhere. Since being named People‘s “Sexiest Doctor Alive” in 2015, his social media accounts have catapulted him further into fame. As of this writing, he has over three million followers engaging with his every move on Instagram and his YouTube videos dissecting the newest health trends receive millions of views each week. However, even with his multiple television appearances, Doctor Mike isn’t out to become a celebrity. “My goal isn’t necessarily to make it big on TV,” he admitted on his YouTube channel. “My goal is to reach the most amount of people possible with my medical advice.”

Although he’s an expert YouTuber, it seems the handsome medical professional was meant to be a physician. “When I was in high school, my friends would always come to me when they would hurt themselves while working out. They would say, ‘let’s go see Doctor Mike,’ as a joke,” he told Coveteur, and the name stuck.

While he’s since taken to divulging many honest medical happenings online, there are things about him and his career that you probably didn’t know. This is the untold truth of Doctor Mike.

Doctor Mike immigrated to the United States

In 1995, when Doctor Mike was just six years old, he immigrated to the United States along with his family in search for a better life. While the Internet sensation has experienced quite a lot of success since then, it wasn’t so easy when he first came to the states. “We lived in a tiny $500 a month apartment for four people,” he told NBC News. And to make the adjustment to American life and school even harder, he told the publication, “I didn’t speak English.”

He admitted that his parents struggled as they looked for jobs in the U.S., but tried their best to make it work. “My mom actually worked for $5 an hour sweeping floors, but before that she was a math professor at one of the highest universities in Russia,” he explained on The Doctors. It’s safe to say that the “Sexiest Doctor Alive” has more opportunities for employment than his parents did decades ago.

Doctors run in the family

Turns out, Doctor Mike isn’t the only physician in his family. “When it was ‘take your kid to work day,’ [my dad] brought me to the hospital in his residency,” he explained on his YouTube channel, and after seeing his father miraculously treat patients, he knew it was the job for him too. “[His patients] would trust him with their health and with their family members’ health,” he told Coveteur. “I was like, ‘wow that’s an amazing job.'”  

This popular practitioner decided to follow a similar yet faster path. He completed an accelerated medical program at the New York Institute of Technology. It’s a difficult program to get accepted into, but Doctor Mike attributes his success to his inspirational father, who began his career as a doctor while they were living in Russia. “When we came to the U.S., he decided to go through medical school for the second time in his life,” Doctor Mike said of his father. College isn’t easy — and his dad attended in a country foreign to him. Whenever Doctor Mike complains, his dad repeatedly tells him this story of his hardship. “With that, I will not argue,” Doctor Mike said.

Doctor Mike uses Instagram to prove medical students have free time

When you think of medical school, you probably think of long hours training at a hospital and almost a decade of your life with your face in textbooks. In other words, you have absolutely zero free time. Doctor Mike was out to prove that’s not the case with his Instagram posts while he was in school. “I would show myself in the operating room, and out at an event later that day. I would go to fashion events and people would be like, ‘How is this guy a medical student and doing all these things?'” He told Coveteur.  

During three years at the New York Institute of Technology, he slowly gained around 100,000 Instagram followers. With his increased following also came a love for something more than medicine. He was bound and determined to prove to doubters that he really was a medical student that still had time to explore New York City. “That’s what made me even more passionate, because they said, no medical student can have that much free time,” he told DuJour, and that’s what began his claim to fame.

This is how Doctor Mike went viral

Doctor Mike’s huge Instagram following brought more attention to his account than just people who were intrigued with his life. In 2015, Buzzfeed published an article called “Um, You Really Need To See This Hot Doctor And His Dog” and — you guessed it — that “hot doctor” was Doctor Mike. For him, the attention wasn’t exactly what he had hoped for. “As a doctor you want to be known for being the youngest doctor in the hospital, publishing research, that I had Encyclopedia articles written by myself — and what I was known for was a hot doctor,” he told Instant.

People magazine went on to name him “Sexiest Doctor Alive” that year and his Instagram following quickly jumped to 700,000. Doctor Mike decided to make the most of his newfound fame. “I can impact — instead of the 40 people I see a week — 40,000 people a week, a million people, through my videos to make better health decisions,” he told Business Insider. “I had one of those viral moments, and as a doctor, you think ‘viral,’ and that doesn’t sound like a good thing,” he laughed as he told Instant. “But for this, it actually was a good thing.”

For a social media star, Doctor Mike's a pretty shy guy

Even with millions of eyes on the social media star each and every week, Doctor Mike wasn’t always such a social person. In fact, he said he was quite shy. “When I was in high school, I wasn’t the person that was always public speaking and making speeches,” he told NBC News. “And I wasn’t popular with girls.” In fact, Doctor Mike was shocked when People reached out to him in 2015 to let him know he had been named their “Sexiest Doctor Alive.” “I thought it was a joke,” he revealed to Fox 10 Phoenix.

It took Doctor Mike years to get to a point where he was comfortable enough to share the personality we know and love today with the worldwide web. As a self-proclaimed nerd in high school, he spent time reading many books on how to be more outgoing and less fearful of receiving judgment from other people. “I really just found out that it’s all about putting yourself outside of the comfort zone, learning that it’s okay to mess up,” he told NBC News. “We’re humans. Everyone makes mistakes.”

Doctor Mike has modeled in New York Fashion Week

In 2017, Doctor Mike stepped onto the catwalk and entered a very different world than conventional medicine. Year after year, he’s debuted a blue suit as a part of the Blue Jacket Fashion Show during New York Fashion Week. After all, for someone who was named the “Sexiest Doctor Alive,” it only makes sense. However, it wasn’t his plan to join the modeling world; he joined in for a great cause. “The bigger reason that I’m happy to be here is because of the Prostate Cancer Foundation,” he told POP Style TV. Each year, the foundation invites celebrities to strut their stuff to bring awareness to prostate cancer.

And though normally medicine and modeling don’t mix, Doctor Mike knows firsthand the importance of donating his time to the cause. “I watch the process of what it’s like to go through the diagnosis, go through the treatments, sometimes suffer as a result of it,” he said. “So to have an organization put this event together where we can celebrate, have some fun, bring awareness to such an important issue and raise some funds, that’s an organization I’m proud to be a part of.”

Doctor Mike's dog has a large following too

There’s a special lady in Doctor Mike’s life and she’s also pretty popular on Instagram. His dog, Roxy Varshavski, has nearly 70,000 followers of her own. Doctor Mike, however, seems to deny that her popularity is because of his Internet fame. “Roxy’s a star on her own,” he told ABC News. He believes, instead, that she’s what made his claim to fame pawssible.

Doctor Mike adopted the Siberian Husky while he was still in medical school and was a way to bring support and a smile to his face following his mom’s passing. Posting several selfies with Roxy online was what caused Buzzfeed to find them. “And that’s where Roxy, my Husky, sort of brought me some of my fame,” he told NBC News. Along with cats, the internet definitely seems to love a doctor and his dog.

Doctor Mike even spent extra time training his beloved pooch so she’s able to come along on appearances, spreading the smiles to others. “She gives a fist bump. She gives hugs. When I do events like the breast cancer walk, she’ll come in, she’ll pose for pictures,” he told ABC News. They’re the ultimate doctor-dog duo.

Doctor Mike is still a practicing doctor

Of his typical schedule, Doctor Mike explained to Business Insider, “The first half of the week I am making YouTube videos. The second half of the week I’m in the hospital actually doing the things I’m talking about.” While also traveling for television appearances, Doctor Mike balances meeting patients, spending time in the operating room, and even delivering babies as a physician in New Jersey. And the busy social media star wouldn’t have it any other way. “I love my patients. I love what I do,” he told Australia’s The Morning Show. “I think that translates into the work I do not only in the office but also on my YouTube channel.”

In fact, he’s gotten some wild messages from fans saying they would throw themselves down stairs so they can come see him, but ladies, please don’t. “The thing that is the most ironic about it is, I focus on preventative care. So people come to see me when they are healthy to stay healthy and avoid getting sick,” he explained to New York Magazine. “People don’t have to get sick or hurt themselves to come see me.”

Doctor Mike is scared of heights but isn't afraid to admit it

As a practicing physician, emergency situations don’t seem to scare Doctor Mike. However, heights sure do. “If I’m on the edge of a building or I’m on the tip of a bridge, even though it’s unlikely that I’m going to fall off, I still have this horrible vertigo and sense of doom,” he admitted on his YouTube channel. However, in 2018, he realized that the only way to get through this fear he had was to experience it firsthand — by flying a small World War II plane. “To say it lightly, I was very scared,” he said, but “just because you’re anxious doesn’t mean it should stop you from doing anything.”

It’s clear Doctor Mike uses his YouTube channel for more than just medical discussions, but that is his focus. “The biggest impact that I’ve seen [from my posts] is, not only are more people coming in for preventative visits just to have a conversation about their health, but also people are relating to me a lot better …,” he told ABC News. He uses his platform to show millions of fans that he’s just an ordinary guy — all doctors are — so that people aren’t uncomfortable going to see one.

Doctor Mike has hosted a TEDx Talk

In 2017, Doctor Mike received an opportunity he’d always dreamed of. “Being such a huge fan of the TED conference, to get a call and an invitation to speak at a conference was just incredible,” he said on his YouTube channel. So, he hopped on a plane to Monaco for his official TEDx Talk, which was quite a far-fetched dream for someone who wasn’t adept at public speaking as a kid. However, he nailed it — and it was a topic most probably wouldn’t think of a doctor admitting to. “Do not be afraid to say, ‘I don’t know,'” was his resounding message.

“Because of my social media fame, I find myself at a very interesting crossroads between marketing and medicine,” he admitted in the talk. With hundreds of weight loss claims, apparent anti-aging remedies, and alleged energy supplements being supported by influencers and self-purported experts all over the internet, Doctor Mike has taken a hard pass on opportunities he knows are hoaxes — regardless of the million-dollar price tags he’s missing out on. But because of his medical profession, fans can depend on Doctor Mike only recommending products he knows will work.

Doctor Mike loves to rent cars

It’s a good thing that Doctor Mike has now built himself a multimillion-dollar business considering he’s always had quite an expensive taste in cars. Even while he was still a medical student, he could be seen flying around New York City in different colors of his favorite ride: a Ferrari. After posting his adventures on Instagram, he even had many other television doctors asking how he was affording all these different cars as a medical resident. “A lot of times, my friends will combine together and get a rental and have a really good time with it,” he admitted on The Doctors.

Along with his passion for cars, Doctor Mike even found himself along for a ride around the racetrack with race car driver Mario Andretti in 2019. “I definitely have never done anything like this but this is an absolutely amazing experience,” he admitted in an Instagram post. Unfortunately for him, you can’t hit the streets of New York City in a rented race car… yet.

Doctor Mike once saved someone's life on a plane

To avoid jet lag, Doctor Mike planned to sleep during his flight to Israel in 2019. However, he woke up early in the trip to a very different plan. Flight attendants were desperate to find someone on board who was able to help a man suffering from an allergic reaction. “In these cases, timing is everything,” Doctor Mike told Australia’s The Morning Show. “You have to administer the medication as soon as possible in order to prevent the throat from completely closing.” Normally, people with allergies carry an EpiPen. However, the man wasn’t aware of his allergy, so he had no medication.  

Doctor Mike dug through the airline’s onboard emergency kit and found a vial of epinephrine. Since they were crossing the Atlantic Ocean, they had no place to land, so this doctor had to make it work. Luckily, he was able to save the man’s life by adjusting the dosage prior to administering it . “Now he’s carrying an EpiPen around to not repeat this experience,” Doctor Mike said in a follow-up on his YouTube channel. That’s the doctor’s orders!

Doctor Mike has his own foundation

It wouldn’t seem like the “Sexiest Doctor Alive” would need help snagging a date, but in 2016, Doctor Mike auctioned himself off for a date with one lucky lady. “What’s really exciting is that, imagine I meet my wife on this date,” he told Cleo, adding, “I was thinking what an incredible story that would be.” Not only was he searching for the love of his life, the date was for a good cause.

Doctor Mike hoped the auction would raise money for his foundation Limitless Tomorrow, which he founded to help young people achieve their goals. “I wanted to evaluate students as a whole, listen to their story, see what their goals were, and give out scholarships based on that,” he told Fox 10 Phoenix. “And partnering up with [the dating app] Coffee Meets Bagel for this date for charity idea we had is exactly how I’m going to get there.” Doctor Mike ended up raising close to $100,000 from the auction, and a lucky lady named Ashley, a pharmacist from Florida, won a date with the social media sensation.

Doctor Mike wishes fans would ask for more than a selfie

Ever since Doctor Mike went viral in 2015, it’s not unusual for fans to stop the famous doctor on the street and request a selfie. Of course, Doctor Mike’s social media success wouldn’t exist without his millions of fans, so he’s happy to take a photo. However, he’s diagnosed one problem with meeting fans. “As soon as they get the selfie, they run away,” he told Tech Insider.

In fact, he once had a fan ask for one while he was still on the job. “The weirdest situation I’ve been asked to take a selfie was during a code blue,” he said on his YouTube channel. “That means that someone’s heart has stopped, and I’m trying to actively revive them.” Eek.

Doctor Mike really is a fan of his fans, though, so he has some non-medical advice for those who spot him out and about. “If you do come up to me and you ask for a selfie, hang around, give me some background on you so we can make a normal human connection,” he told Tech Insider. Maybe they’re just in shock after meeting the internet celebrity. In which case, it sounds like they need a doctor.

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