A Community in Crisis: r/premed

Presenter: Lily Weber

Research Category: Interdisciplinary Topics, Centers and Institutes
College: College of Science
Major(s): Biology, English
Graduation Date: 2023

My project began within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic in the form of curiosity as to how my fellow pre-med students were handling the healthcare crisis we were in. Specifically, my interest was geared towards the premed community on Reddit–a place where premed students talk openly about their fears and hopes. I ultimately conducted a discourse analysis on the premed students of Reddit and how their topics of interest developed throughout the pandemic. I analyzed two posts per each of three time periods (March 2020, June 2020, November 2020) by tagging particular themes within comment threads such as COVID-19, Application Disillusionment, Race, Politics, etc and analyzing their usage. Ultimately, I found that humorous posts tended to yield lighthearted comments and vice versa, premed students tend to debate with sources and citations much like the practice of evidence-based medicine, language tended to meld the technical and vernacular, and popular posts tended to be either heavily satirical or heavily serious in theme, often centering around politics, COVID, and applications.