Clever Titles and Medical Narratives

Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman. Now there’s a clever title! From a light-hearted but informative piece by Stephanie Saul on drug reps

I actually did temp work at the local medical center for about a year. I don’t remember drug reps as always being gorgeous women, but then again, I don’t remember them as ugly ogres either (I’m not very observant, you see).

I was doing secretarial work while taking computer classes at night, and the doctors were just very condescending (intentionally or not). When I once asked a doctor to repeat her instructions, she replied, “Does your family have a history of Alzheimer’s?” (oh, that charming bedside manner!). Frequently, drug companies would call up doctor’s offices and request that they take surveys in exchange for cash. (Once, the offer was $200 for a 20 minute survey!). This was in a formal academic setting, so the doctors/profs had codes of conduct to abide by, but I found such temptations shocking!

On another note, reading, Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind, a breezy yet interesting book about business, psychology and ideas (much in the same vein as Malcolm Gladwell’s book). He reports on a trend in medicine, “narrative medicine” which helps doctors to use patient narratives to improve their diagnosis and treatment. It’s one of those important but obvious ideas that somehow medical schools don’t get around to teaching. Actually, it looks like my alma mater published a special issue on Literature and Medicine recently as well as one on Narrative, Pain and Suffering. I haven’t had a chance to check these out yet, but will report later.

Doctors and writers, writers and doctors. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been writing a story and have been in need of certain medical information for background detail. Sometimes the kind of scenarios you write are so far-fetched that you’re almost embarrassed to ask a real doctor. Perhaps doctors and writers could enter into some kind of barter arrangement.