Friday, February 13, 2009

Medical Students and TV Shows: Medicine Imitating Art?

February 13, 2009

"This is America; haven't they ever heard of the Bill of Rights? We have a Bill of Rights in this country. It's right over there, on the wall. Tell them to go over there and read it."

Salvatore Locascio shouted those words at the trial of his father, a real world mob boss for the Gambino crime family. Did Salvatore learn them from the 1959 Hollywood movie, Al Capone, in which Rod Steiger, playing the title character, shouted at a judge, "We have a Constitution in this country. The Constitution -- ever heard of it? I suggest that when you go to your office you read it?"

It shouldn’t surprise us that life imitates art. It is as true for mobsters as for medical students.
But are we learning the right lessons?

Some fear that if we watch House, we will become House. This fear underestimates both our sophistication and House’s.

It underestimates ours by imagining that we are passive an uncritical emulators of whatever behaviors we see, rather than moral agents and interpreters who judge role models as either positive or negative. It underestimates House’s sophistication by imagining that everything we see on the show is bad or not worthy of emulation.

Doctor shows are popular and successful to the extent that mix up the admirable with the abhorrent, and show us the complexity of human character. Watching such shows can be excellent occasions for medical education.

Link: TV doctors' flaws become bioethics teaching moments, American Medical News, January 26

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Blogger Jay said...

I don't think they should take "House" off the air, but I don't want to watch it, either. I spend enough time in the company of colleagues who are misanthropic and specifically misogynist and who regularly disparage patients and staff in their speech and actions. I have enough memories of House-style medical education - and no desire to add any more images to my collection.

That said, if I were teaching regularly I would probably use clips from "House" and "Scrubs" and "Gray's Anatomy" to start discussions. I'd just have to pay someone to watch the shows for me :-)

Friday, February 13, 2009  
Blogger Practical Bioethics said...

Our friend Thaddeus Pope at the "Medical Futility" blog has a similar take on medicine and TV shows.

Here's the link ...

Monday, February 16, 2009  
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010  

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