Every field needs role models and so does medicine. There are certainly various types that are referred to as role models, but we particularly want to focus on people being recognized widely and pubicly. Becoming a role model in science is usually by publishing in renowned journals, becoming an expert in a specific area or ultimately by winning the Nobel prize. Whenever a scientist, mathematician or physician seeks the limelight of the public, writes semi-scientific books or speaks on TV he or she is often facing prejudice from collegues and the scientific community. This is true for most parts of the world and for most parts of science.
Let’s extend this to physicians (BTW: Here’s a handy list of famous physicians). The opinion of physicians is relevant to the public. It might even be a necessary asset that every doctor should bring with him or her to daily practice. Informing the public in simple words about complex topics is a challenge, which only few strive to pursue.
If you speak on the TV about medicine and health, chances are you are being backstabbed by other physicians. The public will be thankful for any kind of simple medical answers, yet the “physician community” won’t be. Colleagues will rarely, if ever, tell you that you did a great job writing that article for some male health magazine.
Now this is bad. Ask some of your friends who are not into medicine and health if they know a single physician by name and for what he or she is known for. Even I personally only know physicians through their scientific and medical work, but hardly have seen any of them on TV or writing columns in lifestyle magazines. It’s a touchy subject, but I truly believe that there should be more famous physicians. On the long run, this will help attribute medicine the importance and significance it deserves. How come cooks and their books can become bestsellers while physicians are hardly known outside their specialty? Every field of work has their superstars, their heroes, their role models which little kids look upon to and strive to become one of them one day. Medicine doesn’t.
If you ever felt the need to become somewhat “famous” and recognized for your medical knowledge, here are some tips on how to get there:
- Build a network outside of your medical community (be it through twitter or cocktail parties)
- E-mail health editors if they are interested in a monthly column
- Set up a blog and post about topics of your medical specialization
- Be controversial
- Always explain complex things in a simple and understandable manner
- Discover a scientific breakthrough