PHYSICIANS: The New York Times–desperate to fill column inches

When I think about all the problems in American health care, many of them the result of the political and clinical choices made by “older and middle-aged physicians (like myself)” (“Myself” being the author of the piece, Dr Erin Marcus from Miami) I can’t say that the non-formal attire worn by some young doctors  is exactly in the top 5000. In fact wearing a tie, as she (I think Erin is a she) points out, is actually harmful as they collect bacteria—so the chippie with the low cut top is better for the patient than the stuffy old doc wearing the tie!

But honestly, has the paper of record got nothing better to say about physicians, and no one more interesting than Dr. Marcus to invite to write about them? I’m reminded of open sores…..

Happy Thanksgiving!

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5 replies »

  1. I think the real issue behind the weakness of the Times coverage of health care is one of internal politics at the newspaper. I suspect that the writers and editors who work for the health section are instructed not to cross into the turf of the business writers and the political correspondents. Unfortunately, the reality, as THCB readers are well aware, is that such neat divisions are difficult to maintain.
    This is also probably a business decision to an extent: the section clearly strives to appeal to a mass audience.

  2. I agree the New York Times health care coverage is consistently and notably weak–especially given the resources of the paper. And the dress code? Hello, have you ever been to Miami?

  3. My wife has to constantly remind her nurses that exposed midrifts and tattoos are not the attire of professional nurses. Is she just out of touch with the X generation? Will the next round of managers accept the new dress code? I learned a long time ago that men in suits are no more honest or qualifed than men in casual. Even docs with bad bedside personality can be great docs. One of my best teachers (realized too late) had a very harsh way of making us all THINK. But perception is everything – facts meaningless.

  4. Well said. And I think this may be the locus classicus statement on the utter irrelevance of mainstream media.

  5. Yes, the column is fairly idiotic– and what’s up with the pics? Where does that doctor practice?
    But doctor appearance studies do reveal some interesting things: semi-formal is better than formal and white coat; jeans are ok; ties don’t matter (in fact, in a third of cases, patients thought their doctor was wearing a tie when he wasn’t) but formal address (i.e. “Dr. X” ) and name badges are key (see also this and the above two). Also, patients prefer to be called by their first names. Importantly, even in forced choices where patients “prefer” the formally dressed, they do not think they are more knowledgeable. And scrubs are preferred in some cases, e.g. emergencies.
    Doctors, meanwhile, have different perceptions: doctors prefer other doctors to be formally attired. Doctors hate scrubs (except on surgeons.)
    My interpretation is that patients want to feel the doctor is knowledgeable and authoritative, but not “posing” as a doctor.