Making it viral

- in Porträttet

His love for medicine and music has turned the Swedish doctor, Henrik Widegren, into a social media sensation.

Dr. Widegren, otorhinolaryngologist and phoniatrician, has dedicated his last years as a health professional to share his knowledge through catchy melodies and striking lyrics.

Dr. Widegren has been an ear-nose-throat doctor for 20 years. During his medical career, he discovered that people are more receptive to medical information through music. ”Information goes in better when it is communicated through funnier means. Therefore, I decided to deliver messages in a more entertaining way.”, explained Dr. Widegren.

His latest song, ”I Am Corona” has been trending on social media for just over a month. The song reached success due to its detailed description of the symptoms and how to prevent contagion, and additionally, thanks to its high-quality visual production. The main idea, reflected in the video, was to visualize the power of a cough and show how far it truly reaches. Therefore, the video has helped raise awareness of how easily the virus spreads. ”When the epidemic came, I got a lot of suggestions from friends that I should write a song about the coronavirus. It was kind of an emergency project. I wrote the song in one night and produced the music and the video in one week,” said Dr. Widegren.

The public seemed to like the video due to its clear and straightforward explanation of the current pandemic. Ironically, the song went viral on social media and joyfully spread beyond the Swedish borders. Since its launch in mid-March, its level of popularity has increased in many countries. As Widegren described: ”They liked it a lot in South Korea. They said it is great that I made their quarantine more enjoyable”.

Despite its success and viral effect, with more than 400.000 views on YouTube, some people did not appreciate the song. They argued that it is a sensitive subject that represents a serious situation that we live in today.

”Some people think you should not joke about something like this and, of course, corona is a serious pandemic. But the virus will not spread any less by being serious all the time. Of course, we take it seriously. But we can joke about serious matters”, replied Dr. Widegren.

But we can joke about serious matters.

However, Henrik Widegren stated that many of his co-workers have supported him since the video contributes to spread important information that everyone should have: ”My colleagues think it is fun. They think it is good that the information comes out”.

Among the comments on social media, Dr. Widegren has been credited for spreading a funny yet useful message. He considers that including music in his work does not make his work as a doctor less serious. ”Being a doctor is a serious job and I like my job and my patients. And I think one thing does not take away the other. In this case it has a good synergy effect. To combine music and serious information”, said Widegren.

His job as a doctor in the Hospital of Lund has also allowed him to have another type of audience: medical students. Music has helped him promote knowledge with what might be unorthodox, yet certainly effective tools. ”I am teaching both medical students and speech therapist students in the hospital. When we have lectures and I notice that some students are about to fall asleep, I take out my guitar, and I sing a song so they wake up again. I usually sing at least one song during the lecture about the topic being taught”, explained Dr. Widegren.

And indeed, his teaching methods not only make his classes more interesting, but he also puts human biology into practice when facilitating the learning processes. As he explained: ”When you play music, you activate different areas in the brain that are good for memory and awareness. It has a strong pedagogical effect”.

In fact, ”I Am Corona” is barely the latest song in the long list of that Dr. Widegren has composed. So far, his musical career has led him to create four albums, three of which are in Swedish and one in English.

In his large collection, it is evident that science also has its place in the entertainment world. With accuracy and a bit of humor, his songs cover health care topics and issues that all patients should be aware of. Such is the case for ”Never Google Your Symptoms” and ”Text Message from the ER”, in which he sings about everyday situations experienced by health professionals.

On social media, his popularity continues to grow. For instance, his YouTube channel has almost reached 70.000 subscriptions and he has more than 16.000 monthly listeners on Spotify.

Indeed, his next projects are coming soon. ”For the next video I think I am going to sing about blood donations, but definitely not about corona.” In addition, he plans to release his next English album in September 2020.