By Dr. Kate Scannell, Syndicated columnist, Bay Area News Group
First Published in Print: 11/28/10
THE 11TH season finale of "Dancing with the Stars" drew 24 million viewers last Monday night. I was one of them.
I watched the show, exhausted after a particularly grueling day at work. And though I had punched the proverbial clock, still, like many physicians, I continued to view the spectacle of the world through a doctor's lenses.
So I worried about Jennifer Grey's spine and cringed whenever her neck extended. I wished for Bristol Palin an experience of joy residing in the gift of an agile, healthy body -- resilient to the thorny body politic impinging upon it. And I was grateful for Kyle Massey's intrepid exuberance -- I've witnessed no better public health promotion for exercise and physical fitness.
The show was peppered with advertisements reminding us to stay tuned for the upcoming debut of its latest offshoot, "Skating with the Stars." And while I did not warm to that particular concept, I was inspired to think about a different spinoff with a medical twist.
Already, besides skating and dancing with experienced professionals, "the stars" are also singing with the pros. They are shaking and baking with celebrity chefs. Pitching business startups to Donald Trump. Everywhere, the stars are lined up -- literally and figuratively -- to illuminate how anything is possible, how any profession can be mastered within weeks of trying. So it seemed natural to wonder -- why not "Doctoring with the Stars!"?
There are so many good reasons to launch a show featuring pairs of stars and doctors who compete to provide the best quality medical care to patients in the current health care system. For example, "Doctoring with the Stars!" would provide a much-needed reality-check against the public's skewed view of doctors. Through documentary-type coverage of the stars during their monthlong training to become physicians, the public would see what genuine footwork was required of real doctors engaged in actual dances with life and death.
Even I am sometimes confused by media portrayals of doctors. After watching just a few episodes of "Private Practice" I once showed up at work in high-heels and a Chanel white coat, expecting to sit with colleagues all day around the break-room table until our one shared patient-of-the-day showed up and interrupted the fun. One day, I began shouting out inaccurate diagnoses and ordering every imaginable diagnostic test for patients simply because "House" had made that seem not only right, but also righteous. And after season four of "Grey's Anatomy" -- well, let's say I realized that not all doctors need to experience delusional psychotic breaks or personality transplants within the course of their careers.
Besides, if "Doctoring with the Stars!" succeeded in transforming waning stars into shining new careers as doctors, it could help alleviate our country's physician workforce shortage. Already, within the next 15 years, we expect to face at least a 125,000 physician shortfall. (more…)