Being a star on social media can be great – until people find out that you’ve been lying about the nature of your job.
Dr. Risa Hoshino made a name for herself during the pandemic by speaking up about the grueling work conditions she faced while battling COVID-19. She also talked regularly about how the virus can affect young children and may have even helped convince some parents to vaccinate their kids, but she was recently outed for possibly lying about her position in healthcare.
It turns out she makes around $170,000 a year working as a pediatrician in the New York City public school system, which is a far cry from the life she claimed to have on social media.
Changing the Narrative
Risa Hoshino posted on Twitter regularly throughout the pandemic. She was often seen wearing multiple layers of PPE and claimed to be working 12-hour shifts. She regularly complained about being disrespected by her patients and the systemic lack of support for healthcare providers.
She also encouraged her followers to wear masks in public and get vaccinated.
“If you had to listen to crying children all day who are devastated that they may never recover from long covid, & not being able to tell them that everything will be ok…will you still not wear a mask?” she wrote in March 2022.
A few weeks later, she followed it up with: “Not sure how someone can tell me to my face that ‘covid is over’ as I stand there in my scrubs, N95, [and] face-shield, exhausted from treating all the covid + patients who are either severely ill or have long covid. Unless you’re us, you’ll truly never get it.”
“Sometimes I walk home in my scrubs [and] N95 [and] stare at the bars full of unmasked people yelling, laughing, with spit flying, no vaxx status checked, [and] no testing required. The utter contrast of my life with theirs seems so surreal. When will my time be to ‘live my life?’” she tweeted the following day.
At one point she even asked her followers to send her $5 to support her “coffee fund” because she was so overworked and underpaid.
“I just spent 12 hrs straight in a N95 mask. Was it uncomfortable? Yes. Was it annoying as hell? Yes,” she posted on March 22.
Medical, Marketing and Media even named her one of the “top 12 physician influences on Instagram” where she has over 112,000 followers.
But her Instagram profile painted a very different picture. She was often seen wearing a bikini on the beach or sharing drinks maskless with friends. Public records show that she worked remotely throughout the pandemic as a City Medical Specialist for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, earning around $170,000 a year.
One of her co-workers said public health workers usually don’t work 12 hours a day and aren’t required to wear PPE.
However, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said it’s possible that someone in Hoshino’s position could’ve worked on the frontlines of the pandemic, but a spokesperson declined to say whether she had done so.
On her LinkedIn page, Risa Hoshino claims she worked as a “Pediatrician at The Mount Sinai Hospital” treating children, but a spokesperson for the hospital said, “That’s not accurate… She was a resident in training, not a pediatrician.” She started her residency in July 2014 and left in June 2017.
She also used her fame to advocate for the vaccination of children. She even wrote an op-ed for MedPage Today where she called the pandemic among children a “crisis.”
Hoshino posted numerous stories about treating children coming down with the disease.
“9 year old patient: ‘Sorry doc, I lost my train of thought again’ She used to be a completely healthy A+ student & star athlete. But she got long covid & she’s now struggling in school, cannot walk up stairs, & has constant fatigue/palpitations. Please [mask emoji][syringe emoji] for you & for her,” she wrote.
She tweeted that by her estimates around 25% of the children she’s treated have long COVID symptoms.
“Try telling a child that you have no idea when they’ll be normal again and see them tear up. They could potentially suffer for the rest of their life,” she wrote.
Many parents responded by saying they plan to get their children vaccinated.
Hoshino claims to be associated with Mount Sinai Hospital School of Medicine, but her name doesn’t appear on the hospital’s website. It’s not clear if she has hospital affiliation at this point.
Since the scandal has been made public, nearly all of Hoshino’s social media posts have been deleted or made private.
During a leaked Zoom call from October 2020, Hoshino said that she works “normal hours” and has a “9-to-5 job. No weekends, no calls,” while boasting about the healthy work-life balance that comes with being a pediatrician.