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THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of Physician Broadcasters is calling its annual excellence award the "Marcus," after Marcus Welby, the title character of a fictional series still seen in television reruns. Armand Brodeur, MD, newly elected president of the fledgling association, says members chose the name in part because "we don't want to take ourselves too seriously."
Although the association is composed of authentic physicians who work full- or part-time in television or radio, it was not so long ago that "television doctor" usually meant "actor." A medical journal article at the time, considering the impact of dramatic television, suggested that fictional physicians depicted on TV were possibly "the largest source of medical advice in the United States" (N Engl J Med 1981;305:901-904).
Today, however, the trend is for the networks and stations to give air time to bona fide physicians. Given the opportunity, some are jumping at it.
The largest group
Networks, Local Stations Providing Air Time for Physicians to Report, Advise. JAMA. 1987;258(16):2169. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400160015002