The last thing Miki Rai expected was to become an influencer.
She simply wanted to share her personal experience attending nursing school at UCLA and create educational posts for those wanting to pursue a medical career.
A snapshot of her and three of her classmates in scrubs following a 12-hour clinical shift went viral, catapulting her into a group of millennial healthcare influencers on Instagram and Youtube. Now with an impressive 61,000 followers on Instagram alone, she can now work collaboratively with brands for paid promotions while still maintaining her job as a Pediatric ICU Nurse.
I am among those many followers who discovered Rai's page from her viral picture. At the time, I was a community college student with hopes of pursuing an Associates Degree in Nursing to become a fellow RN like her. Rai's informative and optimistic posts were a driving factor in what helped me labor through the seemingly endless hours of lab work and volunteer programs.
Evidently, her smile says it all. Not only is she the sweetest, most down to earth person you will ever talk with but she will truly treat you like a long lost friend. I had the wonderful opportunity to share her real, organic story—from UCLA to Instagram, and everything in between.
1. Did you grow up in SoCal? When did you attend UCLA?
I'm a San Francisco Bay Area native. I actually graduated high school a year and a half early and attended community college before pursuing my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) at UCLA between 2015 to 2018.
2. How would you describe your experience studying at UCLA?
The community college I attended had a similar quarter system—luckily I was able to fit into the process pretty well. UCLA professors are extremely personable and class sizes were a lot smaller particularly in the School of Nursing so it was nice to interact with everyone in such a close-knit, interactive group.
3. UCLA was recently crowned the number one public university by US News & World Report. How do you feel that the community and resources of a public institution helped you achieve your dreams?
The public nature of UCLA has been a valuable aspect in providing me with resources and opportunities relating to healthcare. The David Geffen School of Medicine is within walking distance, and they have so many research programs you can be involved in, even as an undergraduate student. UCLA also simultaneously promotes rigorous academics and student life so it was nice to be able to pursue my education while enjoying various entertainment in Westwood.
4. Please tell me about the UCLA School of Nursing to share with prospective students wanting to attend the program.
The nursing curriculum is a lot different from standard undergraduates because we have to complete clinical rotations on top of lectures and exams. These are 12-hour hospital shifts which occur two to three times a week. We take what we learn in textbooks and practice in skill labs and apply it directly to practice with patient care. In addition to schoolwork/clinicals, we also have to prepare for the NCLEX exam which is the board exam to earn your Registered Nurse License.
5. You recently got hired as a Pediatric-ICU RN which is extremely hard to achieve, especially as a recent graduate. How were you able to distinguish yourself from all other applicants to the program?
I made the most out of my clinical rotations and volunteered thousands of hours to distinguish myself. I also planned ahead, made spreadsheets with a list of potential hospitals and their application periods so I could clearly set some of my plans/goals. Landing a position as a new grad is competitive in itself. On top of that, I was looking to land a job in Intensive Care Unit (ICU), one of the most competitive nursing fields so it was necessary to build a resume where recruiters can see experience working in a similar high-stress environment.
6. Your social media tag #friyaywithmiki allows followers to share something positive/successful from their week for a chance to be featured on your IG story. How did you start this campaign and what message can followers get out of this?
I started this mainly to spread the message that your success isn't defined by another person's failure. The cutthroat nature of the medicine can be distressing, so I wanted to create something where we can lift each other up. I don't simply try to limit it to relate it to healthcare—you can share anything!!
7. Do you have any tips or advice you will give to any aspiring "influencers"?
Find your niche. Don't worry about the number of followers and only post content you love. It's common to post simply because you want to post, but remember—quality over quantity.