Two weeks before Dr. Betsy Grunch began her freshman year of high school, life changed unexpectedly: Her mother, a police officer, suffered a car accident while avoiding gunfire. “She steered off the road and struck a tree,” Grunch recalls. The harrowing incident caused her mom to suffer a spinal fracture and, as a result, she became a quadriplegic. After witnessing her mother’s surgery and subsequent rehabilitation period, young Betsy felt a distinct calling. “My brain started turning—I wanted to learn more about spinal cord injuries,” she says.
The ambitious teen decided to become a certified nursing assistant—while also managing sports and schoolwork—to better care for her mother. Later, Grunch continued her training, earning a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Georgia and a medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia before completing residency and neurosurgery training at Duke. “I’ve been in Georgia my whole life outside of training at Duke,” she says. “After residency, I joined the same practice where my mom had surgery—so it came full circle.”
Today, in addition to working as a neurosurgeon, Grunch connects with a wide audience on social media. It started during the pandemic and grew from her love of sharing information. After following other doctors and watching their approach, she decided to make her own Instagram reels. To her amazement, she swiftly gained popularity—and a video about women becoming surgeons even went viral. “I gained followers, and I went with it,” Grunch says. “I learned along the way, and I’ve always just been myself. I share who I am as a surgeon and who I am as a mom; I use comedy to keep things light.”
With more than a million followers on TikTok and nearly 200,000 on Instagram, Grunch remains humble. Her mission is to educate others by sharing information about her field— and hopefully inspire the next generation of neurosurgeons.