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August 7, 2013
Patronizing PR: 'No, He's an Intern, I'm an Internist'
 
Ever think your internist needed explaining? Or recognition? Not here, but it's a tough road in these challenging medical times. We wish the Philadelphia-based American College of Physicians all success in their PR campaign on behalf of its 137,000 members, who want the public to understand that, as the Vital Signs healthcare blog reports, "there is a big difference between internists and interns." Gee, we never knew. 

Seriously, professionals who feel they need to call attention to themselves in an explicit campaign have a challenging PR problem. Especially when they have to saddle themselves with an ID statement like, "Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness." (It's those pesky general practitioners who treat kids, too.) 

If the going gets really rough in terms of patient confusion, "Internists can order coffee cups featuring the definition printed on them, along with words touting internists as 'your doctor's doctor.' T-shirts with the definition are available as well, and they also include the phrase "I think, therefore I.M."

Really! PR is for positioning, granted. But it gets a little patronizing, we'd think, when doctors start fearing they have to advise patients on the difference between an internist and an intern. 

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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