Here's a story to leave you wondering about the state of health care in the U.S.
Lori Curley: In the '90s, I was living with a good friend who worked in a nearby (undisclosed) hospital. I cannot give you her name, but for the sake of keeping things straight, I will call her Dr. A. One day, Dr. A asked me for a favor. This was how many of our adventures began, including the time we drove a car with a failing transmission all the way to Tampa to give to her mother, who then asked, rather ungratefully, "Why do I want this?" We flew back the next day without stepping even a toe on the beach.
This new favor involved me impersonating a doctor.
Dr. A wanted me to pretend to be Dr. C. Not in the hospital, but at a focus group dinner being hosted by a pharmaceutical company. The plan was for me to be Dr. C so that Dr. C could get the free handheld PDR (Physician's Desk Reference) that the company was giving out as a gift. Dr. C could not attend the event because she was working. It sounded simple enough. I imagined myself sitting in a small theater watching a film about Tyginx (this is not the drug's real name, by the way).
However, and I rarely use this word "however," except for very important turns of events, so pay attention -- I was wrong. The group would not be watching a film, they would be participating in a discussion while they ate a formal dinner -- rolls, fancy chicken, salad, and thank goodness, beer. All the beer we could swallow!
The rolls and beer came in particularly handy, since every time the pharmaceutical rep tried to engage Dr. C, I had a roll in my mouth and could not answer. Other times my friend Dr. A interrupted me. The moderator must have thought I was one of those shy but extra brainy doctors, so she kept badgering me. Finally, I had to make up the number of heart attacks I saw in a week. I went a little high -- 12 -- but another doc said six, and I didn't want to be a copycat.
There are valuable lessons here:
1. Do not trust the results of focus groups.
2. Do not impersonate a doctor at a focus group, even if the gift is cool.
3. If you are admitted to the hospital for a heart attack, ask for the most expensive drug they have.
|Lori Curley, champion mother of two middle-school teenagers, resides in South Orange, NJ. She holds a Masters in Education and has been teaching writing at the college level for 7 years. But can she find a job as a high school English teacher? Or will she pull her hair out first?|