SOME PEOPLE WILL FUDGE THE TRUTH TO BECOME OPHTHALMOLOGISTS
What is your reaction upon reading the headline above? Well, if you’re an ophthalmlologist, you’d probably read it a bit differently than the rest of us. More than likely you’d be concerned about where the person who wrote the headline got her information from.
Karen Kaplan, a reporter for the LA Times, filed this story online on July 13, 2010.
Ms. Kaplan’s blog piece is based on an interesting study published in the current issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, by lead author Dr. Michael Wiggins. Curious about the honesty of applications to his Residency program in Arkansas, Dr. Wiggins looked specifically at the misrepresentation of publications claimed by ophthalmology residency applicants on their CVs.
It turns out that the rate of falsification is “only” 8.1%, which apparently is comparatively low relative to the falsification rate for other residency program applicants. Of course any rate of falsification would seemingly be reason for concern.
Why would young doctors and med students knowingly falsify their applications? As Ms. Kaplan notes, no one knows for sure but it’s easy to speculate. Dr. Wiggins offers several possible reasons, including “the desire to appear more competitive, the low likelihood of detection, the justification that everyone likely enhances his or her curriculum vitae, the competitiveness of the field, psychiatric problems and mistakes owing to carelessness or misunderstandings.”
Two interesting points surface here:
1) By the way in which the headline frames the question, irrespective of the facts of the article the reader is likely to have the seed planted that some ophthalmologists are intellectually dishonest.
2) While the reasons offered are speculative, they bias the reader. In noting the competitiveness in the field, Ms. Kaplan suggests that some ophthalmologists will misrepresent publications to promote their self-interests.
This serves as a reminder that some reporters slant their coverage of health care or educational issues to influence the reader, making it all the more important to get below the surface of the headline, and into the motivation for the story itself.
For example, stating that vision therapy is “controversial” is a concocted statement. It is as contrived as stating that some people fudge the truth to become ophthalmologists. Moving beyond the sensationalism of journalistic or organizational framing allows parents and patients to deal with the facts at hand. It is precisely through parents being able to sense when the truth has been fudged, that cats have succeeded.