EDMONDS — It’s no surprise that breasts and butts get a lot of hits on social media.
But the video posts by “Nurse Stefan” put body parts and functions in a different light.
The goal is health education, with a dose of humor. In videos he makes for Facebook and YouTube, Stefan Torres straps on fake bosoms to demonstrate self-exams and gets cheeky about hemorrhoids.
He has some 28,000 followers on Facebook. His breastfeeding video has more than 250,000 views.
His style: “Talking in laymen’s terms and not boring the crap out of people while you’re trying to teach them something,” said Torres, a Swedish/Edmonds hospital nurse in the post-anesthesia care unit.
Torres, 33, will be honored Thursday as the first recipient of the new University of Washington Bothell Alumni of the Year award. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2014.
Last year, Torres was recognized at UW School of Nursing’s centennial that highlighted 100 nurses over 100 years. Only a couple guys made the list.
His flicks have gained national attention. He won the 2018 Nurses Week Video Challenge by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a public health philanthropy in Princeton, New Jersey. That video followed the contest’s “It Takes a Nurse” theme.
Most videos are devoted to helping patients and other nurses. Torres is behind the camera and in front of it. He also does the editing, often adding punchy graphics. A video can take a few hours to create or up to 30, he said.
It’s a sideline gig that complements his nursing career. The videos are part of his mission as a nurse to “build a culture of health.”
Topics include measles, diabetes, heatstroke, car seat safety, suicide prevention and alcohol withdrawal.
“It doesn’t matter what the topic is. He’s engaging and always entertaining,” said Tiffany Kirk, interim director for alumni engagement at UW Bothell.
Torres made about 30 videos in the past year.
“We have a longstanding award called the Distinguished Alumni Award that is a lifetime career award that goes to alumni who are long established in their careers,” she said. “The council was looking at a way to honor alumni who were younger or doing notable things in the recent year.”
Nominations were from alumni networks and university deans.
“Stefan was an easy choice,” Kirk said. “He exemplifies what UW Bothell does with the cross-disciplinary work, especially with his videos.”
Torres credits UW Bothell classes about critical thinking and analyzing research with a foundation for his videos. “I try to be as factual as possible. A lot of times you can’t trust what’s out there,” he said.
Torres made videos with drones and on feats such as skydiving before focusing on health issues he encounters as a nurse.
He takes suggestions for topics. And he Googles.
“I looked up what’s one of the most searched-for medical conditions and hemorrhoids is one of them,” he said. “A lot of people said it’s their favorite one so far.”
There are laugh-out-loud moments.
Nutrition is a component of some videos.
Torres tends to patients after surgery. “They wake up and they’ve just had their gallbladder out and the first thing they’re asking for is a Dick’s burger, because they are right around the corner from us, and I’m thinking, ‘That is the last thing you need, my man.’ It’s health literacy.”
Torres got into nursing through a series of random events.
After graduating from Edmonds-Woodway High School in 2003, he was on his first day as a stock clerk at a home goods store when his sister called and told him about an entry-level office job in medical records.
The call came as he was contemplating the drudgery of a life spent stacking pillows.
That wasn’t in the plot for him.
Neither was a desk job. While working in a medical records office, a nurse invited him to shadow her in the emergency room.
He was hooked.
“I wanted to be a part of it,” he said. “They were straight up saving lives.”