Edmonds nurse gains worldwide attention for Breastfeeding Awareness Month video

Edmonds resident and nursing professional, Stefan Torres is gaining worldwide attention over his educational video series, Nurse Weekly. (Image courtesy Stefan Torres)

“All the world’s a stage,” is a quote that certainly applies to Edmonds resident and Swedish Edmonds nurse Stefan Torres.

Torres is an award-winning nursing professional who, less than six months ago, established Nurse Weekly, an educational video channel available for worldwide viewing on Facebook and YouTube.

The channel is currently enjoying skyrocketing success with credit going to a video that Torres produced bringing attention to August as National Breastfeeding Awareness Month.

The UW Nursing graduate came to our attention as his cleverly scripted video on the benefits of breastfeeding zoomed past 200,000 views on Facebook this past week.

How could a video with a male nurse touting breastfeeding garner such attention? A contributing factor could be Torres’ hip on-camera wit.

With the staccato style of an east coast comic, “Nurse Stefan” (as he is called) grabs the attention of viewers with his irreverent, energetic delivery.  His premier-quality video productions (which number 22 and counting) cover a wide range of topics well beyond the benefits of breastfeeding. For instance, one of his earlier videos focuses on fear management – even if your fear runs the gamut from skydiving to the impending zombie apocalypse.

The Nurse Weekly series also includes such well-scheduled topics as alcohol withdrawal with a St. Patrick’s Day theme (and Torres masquerading comically as a leprechaun) and Diabetes in 3 Minutes, the release of which was timed for Easter and the allure of candy-filled baskets. (That’s Nurse Stefan behind the bunny nose.)

An enthusiastic representative for the nursing profession Torres recently won first prize in a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurses Week contest for his achievements. The foundation will produce “a short documentary segment on Stefan’s passion for demonstrating and promoting the health and well-being of our community,” his employer, Swedish Medical Center, explains in its employee newsletter.

Stefan keeps busy well beyond his Swedish Edmonds patient load. He explains on his website that his passions include volunteering abroad, instructing youth on public health issues, and producing videos for his Nurse Weekly channel.

We caught up with Nurse Stefan (ST) this week and was granted the following interview:

Thank you so much, Stefan, for taking time out to meet with us. We appreciate that this is a very busy – and exciting – time for you. To begin, would you please provide our readers with an introduction to your life ‘s highlights thus far.

ST: I was born in Philly; my parents moved us to Seattle when I was a youngster. My family has always been close. My mother and father live only a few minutes away from me. My sister and 3-1/2 year-old nephew, who has been one of the greatest gifts to our family, also live nearby.

I graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, after completing the Registered Nursing program at North Seattle College.

I’ve worked as a nurse in a variety of hospital specialties, but have my board certification in Emergency Nursing, as that is where my nursing heart lies.

Twice now I’ve lived and worked on the Hawaiian Islands of Molokai and Maui as a travel nurse. I’ve worked at other local facilities through agencies as well.

Last year I spent three months in Cusco, Peru, which was one of the best experiences of my life.

I’m able to devote most all of my time and energy away from work to my video productions because I’m now working part-time, am single, and without kids. So, don’t think I’m neglecting anyone or anything… besides the gym at times.

~ ~ ~

What reaction do you get regarding being a male nurse?

ST: I often get asked if I like being a nurse.  My answer is always the same: I walk in to each day of my job with the endless opportunity to care for, and take care of a vulnerable population in need of help. What could possibly be better than that?

I truly believe nurses are the single greatest population sector of influencers in the world.

If we’re able to unite and provide an understanding of how to live a healthy lifestyle and encourage each person to take action on their personal and family’s health, we can realistically change the world for the better.

Something must be done about the [disconnected misunderstanding between] nutrition and illness, stigmas against mental health sufferers and those who are addicted; the poor utilization of available healthcare services, and so much more.

I intend to reach out to as many individuals as I can, and encourage those people to reach out to as many as they can, and through the viral spread of truly life-changing information in a fun and powerful way— the world will change.

– – –

Over the past six months you’ve produced 22 high-caliber educational videos. Who all is on your production team?

ST: I am the “production team. From the moment I put the pen to the paper, revise, re-revise, set up lighting, configure camera equipment, record, edit/produce, apply special/sound effects, caption/subtitle, create translated subtitles, manage all social media posting/marketing — you get the picture.

It’s a one-man show.

It takes loads of my time, energy and focus for each video to get from my brain to the screen. I cut back to part-time my hospital schedule in order to devote more of myself to voluntarily creating these educational videos, and it still takes up nearly every minute of my free time. But it’s important to me to help educate the public on health-related topics, so it’s worth it.

– – –

Stefan Torres’ video promoting National Breastfeeding Awareness Month is grabbing top billing among Facebook videos as its worldwide viewership exceeds 200,000. (Image courtesy Stefan Torres)

Stefan, are you/ were you ever an actor or thespian? How did your ‘hip’ on-camera style come about?

ST: My style is just me. On screen, a passionate me. You won’t catch me with the same intensity or demeanor when I’m out to dinner or working out at Harbor Square, but on screen the enthusiasm comes out.

I’ve never acted or taken any sort of acting/drama class. I stay genuine when I’m being filmed, though much more energetic for the sake of engaging the viewers. I’ve been told my east-coast accent, which I thought I’d lost a long time ago, is much more prominent when I get excited and animated about things, so you’ll hear that come through more in my videos.

– – –

The world has “Judge Judy” and also “Dr. Phil” — Do you see your celebrity status expanding to represent the nursing profession as “Nurse Stefan”?

ST: Absolutely. If you would’ve told me this past March (when I uploaded my first educational video) that a couple months later the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest public health philanthropy organization, would be flying a director and PR representative to Seattle to head an award-winning production team on producing a documentary segment about my videos (which I voluntarily produce myself outside of work to help the people)  — I would have simply laughed.

And, if you would have told me two weeks ago I was going to have such an impact on so many future and currently breastfeeding moms; reaching out to me nonstop with gratitude for being an inspiration and advocate for them and others by doing what I’m doing — I would have said, “That seems. . . weird, but awesome!

I’ve been at this for a short amount of time, and the feedback I’ve gotten has been overwhelmingly positive. Things happen quickly and unexpectedly. It won’t stop, because I won’t stop. I’d encourage anyone with an opportunity or connection to any sort of public outreach, be it news, media, or web, that might benefit my mission to educate and influence, to reach out to me and help: nursestefan@gmail.com.

Stefan Torres is interviewed by a documentary film team member as part of his recognition for winning a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation contest during Nurses Week. (Photo courtesy Swedish Medical Center)

~ ~ ~

Most of us will never experience an audience of 200,000 on any project.

So, for us out here, how does it feel to wake up one morning and realize that you’ve created a project that has hit the Nielsen Rating gold standard of Facebook videos?

ST: It feels powerful and promising. My mission is to educate and influence the general public, and inspire other nurses to do the same, on health-care related topics that the public should be made aware of.

More views equate to more people paying attention. I want that attention, because the more attention I have, the more potential I have to influence. There is a large number of people in this world who are suffering.

The world itself is suffering.

I understand there are things that I can’t change, but I’ve evidently found a way to make a difference in a major way, and there isn’t a chance I won’t take full advantage of this opportunity!

Facebook is a great way to grow an audience, as sharing videos is easily done on a social network, however my YouTube presence is in dire need of growing, which is very challenging. They want people to follow your videos by “subscribing” (it’s free, like clicking “follow” “like”), which can easily be done by anyone with a @gmail.com email address by clicking here:  www.youtube.com/NurseWeekly?sub_confirmation=1

Readers might notice that although the breastfeeding video has over 200,000 views on Facebook, the same video on YouTube has less than 300 views. This is because YouTube promotes the videos produced by people that have already been established as “popular”.

However, to become popular, you need to have YouTube promote your videos in order for people to see them. If YouTube hasn’t deemed you popular enough to promote, you could have the Mona Lisa sitting in your basement, and there it stays.

Right below Google, YouTube is the second most popular search engine, ranking above Amazon. It is our new television. It is the new news platform for future generations. The presidential debate was even live-streamed on YouTube.

As I was writing the video I’m currently editing, the top video on YouTube was, Kanye West on Jimmy Kimmel. That needs to stop.

People need each other. The things that matter need to start hitting the top of the list.

So, as much as viewing my videos and liking my page on Facebook is so amazing and appreciated, subscribing to is a far more effective way to institute a change. It lets YouTube know that what I’m saying matters — that public health matters.

~ ~ ~

Stefan, your online presence is amazing. In inviting our readers to stay in touch with you, what other platforms do your use for social networking?

ST: I’d love to hear from anyone who has a cool idea on public health messaging. My contact points, besides YouTube and Facebook are my Instagram accounts @NurseWeekly (brand) and @NurseStefan (personal).

National Breastfeeding Awareness Month

Celebrating its seventh year since inception, National Breastfeeding Awareness Month was begun by a group of breastfeeding advocates which established the United States Breastfeeding Committee.

The committee explains on its website that it is “dedicated to improving the nation’s health by working collaboratively to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding.”

— By Emily Hill

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