Monday, September 26, 2011

Dr. House: Bioethics Instructor

In my last couple of posts, I've quoted Dr. Howard Trachtman about how TV shows like House distort how patients in the real world look at doctors and health care in general. I came across Dr. Trachtman because of a commentary he wrote for a special issue of the American Journal of Bioethics that focused on the TV viewing habits of medical and nursing students.

Trachtman asked readers to understand that he wasn’t arguing against shows like “House,” but just asking that the entertaining fictions be kept in the proper perspective.

"I fear that I have come across as a stuffed shirt, an almost dead white male. I am not arguing for canceling medical dramas from television.I hope people watch them and enjoy them as much they like. I am only advocating basing the teaching of bioethics to health professionals in training on vehicles that will stand the test of time and which focus on physician education rather than the Nielsen ratings." - From H. Trachtman, “The Medium Is Not the Message,” American Journal of Bioethics 8, no. 12 (December 2008): 9–11.
In conversation, he notes that the article was intended to be part of a point-counterpoint exchange, and that actually he thinks House and other shows can be used effectively in educating medical and nursing students about bioethics and other areas of medicine.
“Good teachers can use anything. You can always flip anything and make it into a valuable teaching tool,” he says. “There is so little time and so much to learn, so anything that they can use that would make students assimilate more information in a quick way, well, all the power to them.”
A survey of student TV viewing included in the journal reported that attitudes about medical TV shows tend to be more negative among more senior students, suggesting that the more a person knows about the real world of health care, the more troubled that person may be about the dramatic license taken by TV writers. Older students simply know better. By contrast, the average viewer has little or no direct experience that could counterbalance
the media images.

Read the full discussion in “House, M.D. vs. Reality

No comments: