Blog | Friday, March 30, 2012

A 4-step primer to fame as a physician

After years of languishing and trying to figure out how to become famous in medicine, I have finally realized the key!

How did I finally reach my epiphany?

Well, one particular doctor (who shall remain nameless) has become famous in my field, as well as moderately famous around the country in the lay press, by promulgating a very specific theory for the last 20 years. Although the theory does have some validity, this doc promotes it as the end-all-be-all of the issue at hand, so much so that the doc now has published a book directed at patients who need help for their problem. When I happened upon the book's website, I noticed a picture of the doc standing together with another physician who has a very famous TV show. (I'll let this doc remain nameless as well, but if you are a wizard you'll figure it out.)

It was then that the light went off about the key to getting famous ...

Promote your agenda by being dogmatic.

Here's how you do that:
Speak in absolutes. Talk in black and white. Never bring up the shades of gray because that might confuse your target audience. Words to avoid include: may, might, could and possibly. Instead choose words like: will, won't, always and definitely.

Incite fear in people. Tell everyone that if they don't follow your advice something bad will happen to you. Like inflammation or dysfunction, those are hard to disprove. Or maybe malaise, fatigue, depression, or other problems that have a hard time getting better. Then your audience will believe you, because that's probably why they're listening to you anyway.

Never rely on science ("evidence-based medicine"), because only your opinion ("media-based medicine" #mbmed) counts. Studies with valid, patient-oriented outcomes are much harder to do and probably won't prove your point. So why waste the time and money, when being charming and loud is much easier to make sure people know you're right?

Never admit that you don't know. That will just show you are a failure and you will appear less god-like to the people you are trying to reach.

I'm glad that I figured that out. Now I don't have to spend my time trying to understand and study complicated medical issues when I can just make everything fit my agenda. Whew, that's a relief!

Oh, and this is a pretty good way to get elected to political office too.

Ryan Madanick, MD, is an ACP Member, a gastroenterologist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, and the Program Director for the GI & Hepatology Fellowship Program. He specializes in diseases of the esophagus, with a strong interest in the diagnosis and treatment of patients who have difficult-to-manage esophageal problems such as refractory GERD, heartburn, and chest pain. This post originally appeared at his blog, Gut Check.