Friday, October 26, 2007

Romance in Primary Care

A rather peculiar letter was published in the most recent issue of The Lancet. A psychiatrist named Brendan Kelly has perhaps more time on his hands than is healthy. He did an informal analysis of the portrayal of various specialties in a sample of romance novels with medical settings. He presents the following conclusions:
  • Most were set in primary care or emergency medicine settings.

  • The most common pairing was between a male doctor and a female doctor followed by a male doctor and a female nurse.

  • There was a "marked preponderance of brilliant, tall, muscular, male doctors with chiselled features" and "skilled, beautiful and determined, but still compassionate" female doctors and nurses.

  • "Protagonists of both sexes had frequently neglected their personal lives to care better for their patients..."
As one who works daily in an academic, medical setting, I was astounded by the almost eery accuracy and realism these novels attained.

I did find two significant departures from reality however. First of all, anyone who's following the cataclysmic fall in physicians continuing on in primary care, point number four seemed a bit overplayed. More physicians seem to be neglecting their practices to better live their personal lives than the reverse.

Second, I wouldn't describe my features as "chiselled".



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