UF PathLabs video goes viral, alarms administrators


A screen capture from "Thrift Lab - UF Pathology (Thrift Shop Parody)" on YouTube.

Published: Thursday, July 18, 2013 at 11:40 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 18, 2013 at 11:40 a.m.

Two music video parodies representing the University of Florida Pathology Laboratories have become a potential public relations headache for administrators, who have asked the UF Health Shands Hospital resident responsible for the spoofs to take them down.

Brett Baskovich, who completed his residency at UF in June and is on a one-year fellowship at the Montefiore Medical Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, posted the videos June 13 on Youtube. On July 9, he posted a video on his Youtube channel saying his "best videos ever ... have been censored by certain higher-ups at UF."

Reached by phone in the Bronx, Baskovich said that right before he left for New York at the end of June, he was told by the Pathology Department's chair that he'd received complaints from his superiors and asked Baskovich to unlist the videos so the general public couldn't search for them on Youtube.

"He told me someone higher up than him" had made the request to remove the videos, Baskovich said.

People wanting to see the videos needed the links, which were being passed around Wednesday on social media.

"I'm kind of wondering how much trouble I can get in," Baskovich said. "They didn't want them to spread like this."

Students creating such spoof videos has become fairly common at medical schools across the country. Baskovich's video has been available online for weeks but on Wednesday it went viral and was suddenly much talked about.

David S. Guzick, UF senior vice president for health affairs and president of UF Health, said in an emailed statement to The Sun that the latest video was brought to senior leadership's attention late Wednesday afternoon.

"It was an unauthorized video that portrays inappropriate behavior in violation of the university's social media policy," Guzick said. "We will immediately investigate the matter and, based on our findings, take swift action to ensure the highest standards of professional behavior in all of our employees."

According to UF Human Resources social media guidelines, employees "may not spend more than minimal work time on personal activities, including the use of social media. However, a vice president or his/her designee may authorize use of personal social media sites and accounts that further university interests."

Also, the policy says that "text, photos, videos, and other material posted on social media pages, including personal ones, should be in keeping with generally accepted professional and/or ethical standards for one's field(s) of work and/or study."

One video, titled "Thrift Lab" and set to rapper Macklemore's "Thrift Shop," shows doctors, interns and other staff at the Pathology Lab going about their daily grind — pulling slides, running tests to detect leukemia and tuberculosis. At the end of the video, Baskovich appears studying for his medical board exams and swigging from a bottle of Jack Daniels.

A Google search for "UF Thrift Lab" got more than 6 million results Wednesday night, and it was listed on the Daily of the Day as "The Best Macklemore Homage You'll Ever Watch," although some posters said the Illinois College of Optometry's "Thrift Shop" parody was better.

The "UF Thrift Lab" video got so many hits that Baskovich said he relisted it on his channel.

Another video, titled "Gator Style" and set to Psy's "Gangnam Style," shows the Path Lab team in full Gator regalia — T-shirts, hats and all — incorporating the Gator Chomp into the Gangnam horsey hop.

"My department was very cool and willing to be in the videos," Baskovich said. "But there was someone else, like higher up, that didn't like them."

Some of the people in the videos include Chen Liu, the associate chair in the UF Department of Pathology, and Robert Allan, medical director of the UF Pathology Lab.

Asked if he had considered the potential fallout, Baskovich said, "The reception has been pretty good, other than a few people that didn't like them."

UF Health officials said the entire department, including staff, faculty and residents, will receive counseling and social media education. In addition, departmental members will be required to review the social media policies and sign a document acknowledging they understand them.

Finally, UF Health leadership sent a memo out to all UF Health employees reminding them of the social media guidelines and policies for UF and Shands and offering guidance on the appropriate use of social media as it represents the institution.

"Even when using social media in a personal capacity, we would like to remind employees that reasonable precautions should be taken to indicate that the activity is being conducted as a private person and not as an employee or representative of UF Health," the memo says in part.

Baskovich said he enjoyed being at UF, which is evident from his Facebook page, where he posted photos of himself wearing a Gator shirt and sitting on the alligator statue outside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

He said he did the videos, the last two in a series of about a dozen videos shot over the past few years, because they were fun.

"We were just trying to make an entertaining video," he said.

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