Saturday, March 2, 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 you 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?


  1. Disclaimer: I am an Israeli (albeit living in Berlin). I also was treated as a patient in several hospitals and interact with medical professional daily now. Not sure how this might affect my views...

    It seems rather obvious for a military or any big organization to worry that if its staff (soldiers, doctors, lawyers or whatever) is making funny videos. Their "clients" (the public, patients, defendants etc) could lose trust in the profession or the organization.

    At the same time, I can't imagine any profession or organization where people completely lose their sense of humour. They would lose their humanity and human nature in the process.

    There's a fine but very distinct line between humour and being irresponsible or disrespectful. I think most of us know where this fine line is instinctively. Crossing the line can be dangerous on both sides (being too strict, or too permissive). As humans, we do have some good collective common-sense, and that's where things should probably be. It of course depends on the situation too.

    In my small startup, we try to use humour if we can. At the same time, we realize that people won't take us seriously if we joke around all the time. Our content is serious and we take it seriously. We also take seriously the need to have fun and enjoy what you do. In our case, to increase our student learning experience.

    Yoav from kenHub.

  2. @Yoav
    Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Interesting that you are not sure how this video might affect your views. I assume that means you don't have very strong feelings either way.