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From Nurse to TikTok Star: One Creator’s Journey Amid the 2020 Pandemic

John Dela Cruz, Nurse and TikTok Creator (Photos via Dela Cruz)

In 2020, as the global pandemic took hold, John Deal Cruz, a young nursing graduate from Quebec found himself thrust into a maelstrom. Freshly out of nursing school, he started working in a hospital where he quickly learned the ropes, from administering medication to handling department-specific routines. 

On top of that, he had to get a grip on the onslaught of COVID-specific safety regulations that kept popping up every day. He also had to bear the emotional toll of bridging the communication gap between isolated patients and their distressed families, often delivering grim news via video chats. 

The dire realities of the pandemic, coupled with his questioning if he was made for this taxing profession, made life extremely challenging.

Amongst all the distress and exhaustion, he sought a distraction and stumbled upon TikTok, a rapidly growing social media platform. 

During a break in his gruelling shift, he filmed his first video – a simple one where he held up his badge that read ‘RN,’ responding to a viral prompt asking viewers to showcase undervalued and underpaid jobs. 

In a twist of fate, he accidentally posted the video online. Little did he know that her life was about to change dramatically.

Going Viral

When he returned home after an especially long shift, he found out that he had “gone viral.” The video had garnered over a million views and upwards of 100,000 likes. It was a shocking revelation for him, but the surge of attention, despite his introverted nature, gave him a sense of excitement. However, he assumed it was just a fleeting moment of fame.

A few months later, after an exceptionally challenging shift, he decided to create another video. This one was a humorous and exaggerated reenactment of the emotional breakdown she had experienced at work. 

The video hit home with viewers, receiving a million views and a deluge of supportive comments. This prompted him to continue posting, sharing a new video every week – all of which also went viral.

His videos covered the chaos that often unfolds just before a shift ends, the desperate need for nurses to unwind with a glass of wine, and the constant requests for nurses to work extra hours. 


And you inow what it doesnt even have to be a year sometimes ita just 3 months and you already looked like you need to retire and go to the neareat paych ward and rehabilitation center. #nursejohnn #nursesoftiktok #nurselife #nurse #nursehumor #nursetok #nursetiktok #nurseproblems #nursing #nursingstudent #nursingschool #healthcareworker #healthcarehumor #hospitallife #hospitaltiktoks #medicaltiktok #medicalhumor #fyp #foryou

♬ original sound – nurse.johnn

He often infused humor into these videos, transforming the heavy topics into digestible and entertaining content. His lighthearted approach struck a chord with viewers, and the platform provided a space for him to express him feelings about his profession.

In the heart of all this was his TikTok community. His followers grew to an astounding 3.7 million people who related to, sympathized with, and laughed at his content. 

He received messages from fellow healthcare workers who resonated with him experiences, and even from patients who appreciated the humanity she brought into their understanding of hospitals and healthcare. 

This newfound community made him feel less alone in his experiences and provided the support he had been seeking since he started nursing.

In July, after two grueling years on a surgical floor, he decided to transfer to her hospital’s emergency department. The change of environment was exciting, but he was still feeling the intense effects of burnout. 

Eventually, he took a mental health leave in December, acknowledging her exhaustion and deciding to prioritize her well-being.

Even though his time away from nursing was necessitated by burnout, he found that he could still pursue his passion for helping others heal – just in a different way. Through TikTok, he was nursing an international community, sharing his experiences, providing comfort, and making them laugh.

Dela Cruz is Still Popular on TikTok

Now, more active on TikTok than ever, he consistently posts about the trials, tribulations, and little joys of her nursing journey. His followers leave comments sharing their own experiences, providing encouragement, and reminding him that he is not alone in his struggles.

TikTok has become more than just a platform for him; it has become a form of therapy, a refuge, and a source of strength. He found that sharing his experiences and feelings was cathartic. 

But more importantly, he was making a difference, impacting others positively, helping them feel less alone and more understood.

One might argue that he found his calling within his calling. 

As a nurse, he was committed to the well-being and recovery of his patients. 

As a TikTok creator, he nurtures a vast virtual community, providing them with comfort, laughter, and a sense of belonging during uncertain times.

His journey is a testament to the power of vulnerability and authenticity. By using humor as a tool to tackle tough issues, he has been able to bring lightness to heavy topics and stimulate dialogue about mental health, stress, and the realities of being a healthcare worker amidst a pandemic.

The virality of his content suggests a shared global sentiment – the need for an empathetic, genuine connection in trying times, and the comfort in shared experiences.

His story resonates not just with fellow nurses or healthcare workers, but with anyone who’s ever felt overwhelmed, stressed, or simply had a tough day at work.

With a growing community of followers, he continues to produce content that both entertains and provides an insightful look into the world of nursing. 

The videos keep coming – whether they’re about the perils of night shifts, the chaotic full moon nights at the hospital, or the immense value of work besties. His content gives her followers a reason to smile, even when times are tough.

Although he still considers nursing his greatest passion and plans to return when he’s ready, his TikTok stardom has opened a new path for him. It’s a path where he can share her journey, promote mental well-being, bring attention to the highs and lows of nursing, and most importantly, create a sense of unity among millions.

The Creator Economy + Traditional Professions

In this TikTok nurse’s story, we see the convergence of the creator economy and traditional professions. His experiences underline the fact that everyone has a unique story to share, and sometimes, the most extraordinary tales come from the most ordinary of places. Even from the middle of a short-staffed hospital in Quebec, in the throes of a global pandemic.

As he continues to create, engage, and inspire, he remains a beacon of resilience, authenticity, and compassion in the vast world of content creation. His unconventional journey to online fame is not just about virality or numbers, it’s about making a genuine connection, fostering a community, and finding laughter amidst the chaos.

In an era dominated by digital platforms, we’re seeing an unprecedented shift in how individuals carve their career paths. The creator economy – a sector primarily made up of independent content creators, curators, and community builders – is blurring the lines between personal, professional, and creative spaces. 

This shift is giving rise to new opportunities for individuals across “traditional” professions to leverage these platforms and transform their experiences into engaging content.

Healthcare workers, educators, engineers, and even scientists are transitioning from being solely practitioners of their respective professions to becoming creators who share their knowledge and experiences with a global audience.

This convergence is not just about creating additional income streams but is also about the exchange of ideas, democratization of knowledge, and the creation of supportive communities.

Take, for instance, the case of educators turning to YouTube to simplify complex academic concepts or chefs sharing recipes on Instagram. They are reaching audiences far beyond their immediate geographic location, breaking down barriers, and revolutionizing how knowledge and skills are shared and consumed.

However, it’s not just the sharing of hard skills or knowledge that’s appealing. As our nurse-turned-TikTok-star has shown, sharing authentic experiences, challenges, and even failures, can resonate powerfully with audiences.

Vulnerability and authenticity are becoming the new currency in the digital world. 

Creators are no longer just faces on a screen; they’re real people with real stories, making real connections.

What this means for creators

For individuals in traditional professions considering a plunge into the creator economy, this trend offers promising insights:

  • Your professional skills and experiences, even the mundane ones, can be transformed into engaging, relatable content.
  • Authenticity and vulnerability can connect you deeply with your audience. Being open about your experiences, even the not-so-glamorous ones, can build a sense of trust and community.
  • You can leverage the creator economy to broaden your impact, disseminate valuable knowledge, spark important conversations, and even effect change on a grand scale.

As the lines continue to blur between these two worlds, one thing remains clear: the creator economy is not confined to entertainers or influencers in the traditional sense.

It’s an expansive, inclusive space where anyone with a story to share or a skill to teach can find a welcoming audience.

And sometimes, as our TikTok nurse has shown us, you might end up healing the world in ways you never imagined.

Kim Doyal

Kim Doyal

Hi, I'm Kim Doyal: Entrepreneur, Podcaster, ContentCreator, Optimist. Over 13 years into this online business journey, I believe that #EverythingIsContent and we can all #JustShowUP. Creator of #FtheHustle movement and Co-founder of the Content Creators Planner.

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