Editor’s Choice: In the spotlightBMJ 2016; 352 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i606 (Published 03 February 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i606
- Tom Moberly, editor, BMJ Careers
Doctors’ interactions with the media are examined from two different perspectives in this week’s BMJ Careers. Rachel Birch considers what doctors should do when they are approached by the media for comment on a story (http://careers.bmj.com/careers/advice/In_the_eye_of_the_media_storm), while Rachel Isba and Lucy Potter describe their experiences working in the media (http://careers.bmj.com/careers/advice/The_art_of_communicating_science).
Birch says that doctors who are approached by journalists should ensure that they retain their composure, while also avoiding saying something they might later regret. Rather than providing provisional comments, it is better to ask the journalist for further details and to say you will respond to them later, she says. Birch also emphasises the importance of maintaining confidentiality around patient care.
Isba and Potter took part in the British Science Association’s media fellowship scheme and worked with BBC Breakfast and the Mirror’s online team. They say that doctors should seek out opportunities to communicate with patients, colleagues, and journalists, and they point to opportunities well beyond the fellowship scheme they undertook.
The dispute over changes to the junior doctor contracts has seen many doctors discussing pay, working conditions, health service funding, and patient safety in a very public arena. As the use of social media grows among the medical profession and the wider public, more doctors are finding themselves speaking out in public. For doctors contacted by journalists and the public on social media, the guidance from Birch, and the experiences of Isba and Potter, are likely to be just as useful as for doctors approached by phone or in person.
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