Primary Care: The Reality TV Show

I have a theory.  I believe we can solve the primary care shortage with the most American-as-apple-pie, tried-and-true solution this blessed country of ours has ever invented: the reality TV show.

Hear me out: No one had heard of “forensics” before CSI.  But it became a competitive, saturated job market, despite the fact that – let’s face it – the characters’ careers all seem short on lifestyle and big on pointless bureaucracy.  (Also: running from serial killers.)

And primary care could be just one tv show away from the same fate.  (… But fewer serial killers.)

The Contestants:  A dozen or so primary care physicians, carefully selected to conform to reality TV tried-and-true personas: “The 7th-generation Prestigious School physician who lacks all common sense”, “The plucky, street-smart physician with a heart of gold”, “The sassy, no-nonsense rural doctor”,  “The gunner MD who will stop at nothing to win”.

The Prize:  Would be a sum of money to the charity of their choice, free publicity for their practice, and co-pay forgiveness for their patients – donated by the show’s sponsoring insurance company.

And a guest spot appearance on the trashy medical tv show of their choice!

The Challenges: Mostly, these would be timed diagnostic challenges, but there’d be a curveball every few episodes:

“Draw the brachial plexus from memory.  Blind-folded.”

“Please work in teams to match the correct Forrest Pharmaceuticals drug to the conditions it is FDA-approved to treat.”

“In this room is a hypertensive patient who wants to lose weight, but “doesn’t have the time”.  Each physician has 10 minutes to take a history and propose solutions to the patient – who will then pick the winner.  Oh, and by the way?  The patient only speaks Croatian.  GO!”

The Patients:  Would all be volunteers who have been screened for psychiatric problems and already undergoing treatment for their disease.

The Host:  Would be Anderson Cooper.

The Show: Would make the person who pitched it disgustingly rich.

Are you sold on this yet?  Feel free to pass it on to your friend-of-your-friend’s uncle who used to work at NBC or wherever.  It’s clearly golden.

(… At least, assuming someone comes up for a catchy name for it.  Is anyone good at that?  Let’s try for a pun.)

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19 thoughts on “Primary Care: The Reality TV Show

  1. I’m probably taking this too seriously, but I actually like the idea. I think the show “ER” did measurably increase med school enrollment (I recall reading something about that long ago), and think a primary-care show (reality, or otherwise) could do the same. I think one problem is that the office setting just doesn’t provide a stage for as much drama as a hospital (and let’s face it, drama is what everyone tunes in for). I hope someone runs with this idea. It certainly wouldn’t even come close to being the worst idea for a reality TV show (see:Jersey Shore).

  2. I’m a Norwegian intern and one of the tv networks here recently aired a reality show focusing on a handful of interns in Norwegian primary care. (We have 6 months of mandatory internship in primary care as part of our 18 month internship before being licensed to work on our own as MDs.)
    A problem the network encountered was a drunk patient who gave her consent, while still under the influence, to being portrayed on the show… on national television.

  3. The second time I became interested in applying to med school, it was because of the X-Files. I think this has legs. F all this med school nonsense, drop out, and make yourself millions of dollars. I don’t see what’s stopping you…..

  4. You could totally make drama in a clinical setting just by finding people whose personalities clash…maybe throw in a few nurses, a receptionist, some other administrative people with a blend of sassyness, passive aggression and bitchy-ness and it would be PERFECT.

    I second placing the show in Jersey Shore though.

  5. Oh, crap, I’m going to have yell names at my computer for a minute here.

    Doctors by Design! Designing Doctors? Making Medicine Work! Four Doctors! (They compete for a vacation. Their significant other rides up in a limo…) Say Yes to the Resident! DC Doctors! Doc Wars! Top Doc! Iron Doc! Doc Chef! (What? They have hobbies. They’re complicated people!) Doc Whisperer! (Actually about their staff.)

    Yes, this is mostly based off programming from WEtv and Food Network. What? Reasonable use!

    I love the idea SO HARD, though.

  6. That’s actually a really good idea. It’s a shame that it might take something like that to address the shortage, but hey, whatever works!

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