Saturday, September 1, 2007

Physician Documentary, Michael Moore - The Potential Power of a Physician Documentary

Say what you will, documentaries have power. They’re a persuasive visual tool for conveying personal experiences and points of view. In the case of Al Gore and Michael Moore, in An Inconvenient Truth and Sicko!, documentaries serve as impassioned polemics to provoke the public and advance a cause.

Documentaries can also be works of calm reportage and historical narrative, as Ken Burns’ “World War II” will surely be. It will appear on public television this fall. This is the type of documentary I’ve had in mind in previous posts when I’ve called for a documentary on the experiences and views of practicing physicians in America.

The American public isn’t fully aware of pressures on physicians brought about by a mix of constant malpractice threats, high education debts, heavy workloads and long hours, administrative hassles, fatigue and exhaustion, and pervasive feelings of loss of control. A documentary featuring interviews of snapshots of physician’s personal journeys could help remedy this lack of awareness.

I’m happy to report two such documentaries are in the works – one by John Tassel, an ABC reporter who is host of 20/20, and one by Ryan Fletcher, MD, a 34 year old emergency room physician in Boston. Ryan called me the other day to tell me of his documentary quest. He has spent the last two years and his own money to compose his documentary, which is “about 85% finished.” It lacks final editing and scripting , a musical score, a few more interviews and vignettes. As we spoke, for example, Dr. Fletcher was about to fly to Seattle to interview a third year medical student, who was already $100,000 in debt and having serious doubts about a medical career.

Dr.Fletcher thinks of himself not only as an ER doctor, but as a film maker. His brother is a documentary film maker in Hollywood, and Ryan has spent time assisting his brother and learning the art of the documentary. Ryan wants the public to walk in the moccasins of practicing physicians, to share their lifes first hand, to show many are economically struggling, and to shoot down stereotypes of doctors.


Philippa Kennealy, The Entrepreneurial MD Coach said...

Dr Reece

Do you have contact information for Dr Fletcher please? I would love to interview him for my weekly podcast on "Conversations with Trailblazers" -- physicians who are accomplishing entrepreneurial activities. This is for The Entrepreneurial MD. I would much appreciate it if you could introduce us please. I am fascinated by the fact that he is making a documentary.
Thank you!

Philippa Kennealy

NancyLICSW said...

Dear Dr. Reece and Ms. Kennealy,

Thank you for your comments on our upcoming documentary. The film has begun to generate interest and seems to be creating its own momentum.

Our new website is in the designing stages, but you are welcome to go to for a look at the basics of our project.

Trailblazing is more gratifying, we have decided, than keeping company with regret.

We deeply believe in the importance of this film about Dr. Ryan Flesher's personal journey. We appreciate the ideas that you have shared with us and the contact information you have provided. Most of all, we are grateful for your encouragement.

We continue onward...

With respect and good wishes,

Nancy Pando, LICSW, Co-Producer
Ryan Flesher, MD, PRODUCER

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