Intended for healthcare professionals

Student Careers

Working in the media 1: Options for doctors

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 01 May 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:0405194
  1. Graham Easton, assistant editor1
  1. 1Careers Focus, and senior producer, BBC Radio Science

If you think you might be interested in working in the media but aren't sure what it will entail or how to go about it, this three part guide by Graham Easton should help

A doctor's name should appear in the press only at birth, death, and marriage--apparently, that was what some medical students were being taught as recently as the 1970s.1 I know that many doctors still reckon that's a pretty good rule of thumb. But more and more seem to be breaking out of the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship and braving the grubby world of the media. Or they would like to, judging by the interest at the BMJ Careers fairs and the regular stream of emails from medics requesting media experience at the BBC.

This first article lays out some of your options and gives you a taste of what you can expect from media work. The next two articles deal with the nitty gritty: tips on how to get your foot in the door and some guidance on the nuts and bolts of broadcasting and writing.

Why do you want to do it?

If you think that media work is easier and more fun than medicine, then in my opinion you are right. It's rarely glamorous though--deadlines and live broadcasts can be nerve wracking, and you'd be daft to go into it for the money.

If you are seduced by the lure of celebrity, think again. It may be satisfying the first few times you see your name in print, but the attraction quickly wears off. Editors and producers can smell celebrity seekers a mile off. You are likely to have much more enduring success if you are driven by a fascination for your subject and a love for the process of communicating it clearly and engagingly. So if you find …

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