Blog | Monday, April 22, 2013

Does the medical profession need to lighten up?

Recently the Israeli Army (Israel Defense Forces to be precise) reacted to its soldiers doing the Harlem Shake and posting the video on Social Media. Some of those responsible were put in jail!

Stop right there. What are your thoughts at this point? Most likely if you do not have a close connection with that part of the world, you are thinking, "What's the big deal? They are just young adults, let them have some fun, keep their sense of humor!"


OK hold that thought.

Now take a story closer to "home". If you are related to the health care profession or close to someone who is, you know that we take our professional image very seriously.

We hear stories of how students were forced to take down a video of them dancing with skeletons. Most would side with the school authorities due to the disrespect to the dead and those who made the ultimate sacrifice by donating their bodies for education and research.

But remember, the skeletons are plastic models and not human bones. Clearly there is a fine line between entertainment and disrespect to our patients or the dead.

Many medical schools have theater programs where students present parodies of the medical profession and these are supported by the school administration with the proceeds from the ticket sales going to worthy charities.

Are we fooling ourselves? Does the general public feel the same way about our reaction to the medical student videos as we feel about the Israel Defense Forces reaction to the soldiers' video?

Are we too close to this? What do non-medical people think? If we think that we should not risk disrespect to the dead or a threat to our professional identity for just entertainment value, what if videos were used for patient education?

What if a video full of sexual innuendo increased the number of patients getting flu shots?

What do you think? Does the medical profession need to lighten up?

Neil Mehta MBBS, MS, FACP, practices internal medicine at a large tertiary care hospital in Ohio. He is also the Director of Education Technology (Academic Computing) for his medical school and in charge of his hospital system's home grown Learning and Content Management System. He is interested in use of technology in education, social media and networking, practice management and evidence-based medicine tools, personal information and knowledge management. This post originally appeared at Technology in (Medical) Education.