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First Person: Interning at The Dr. Oz Show
Posted: Monday, March 28, 2011
Written By:  Aali Javid PharmD’11

PharmD candidate Aali Javid had an opportunity to spend his elective rotation at The Dr. Oz Show in the fall 2010 semester. Javid joined three medical students who had taken a one-year leave of absence to work on the show. He quickly found that he had to jump in and take initiative in order to make the most of his opportunity.

Having a strong interest in both public health and media, I pursued an elective rotation at The Dr. Oz Show. From the onset, I knew that this opportunity would merge my broad interests and further my career as a pharmacist. Over the course of five weeks, I was able to gain insight into the realm of broadcast media—including television, radio, and print—and use it effectively to educate the public…and myself.   

I recalled at our orientation to rotations that Dr. Steven Sheaffer insisted we behave “not as wallflowers” during our clerkships. So, when I overheard a producer discussing a possible future segment dealing with pharmacy, I introduced myself to her and asked to be assigned to the piece, knowing that my background in pharmacy would be an asset to the team. Being the first pharmacy student interning at The Dr. Oz Show, I was not only motivated to promote my profession, but I also wanted the segment to convey to the show’s three million regular viewers the vital role played by the community pharmacist in their personal healthcare.

The staff at The Dr. Oz Show thoroughly research the information they televise to their viewers. Given the task of substantiating every fact or tip stated on the show, a valuable skill I improved upon as a student at University of the Sciences, was the ability to effectively research and support information. For example, there were instances when an answer to a question was obscure or controversial. In these situations, I had to investigate and differentiate among several sources. Oftentimes, the process entailed a meticulous search of professional, medical, and research publications before relevant information could be extracted and conveyed in broadcast material. Fortunately, with Dr. Oz’s reputation as a world renowned physician and his celebrity, I had the privilege of speaking to leading experts in their respective fields as well as the CDC and FDA to complete the substantiation.   

Media sources in the form of television, radio, or print have tremendous influence on the public. In light of this unique capability, I took advantage of an opportunity that allowed me to showcase to our viewers the importance of the community pharmacist with a segment titled, “Mistakes Consumers Make at the Drugstore.” The successful segment highlights the role a pharmacist undertakes in educating consumers about medications dispensed to them. (Watch them here: http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/dangerous-drug-store-mistakes-pt-1 | http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/dangerous-drug-store-mistakes-pt-2)

Although it may appear straightforward, a healthcare professional has the responsibility to counsel patients, and it is not necessarily an easily accomplished feat. One must utilize the limited time wisely and relay the information consistent with the patient’s ability to comprehend. Another important skill I honed over the five weeks was the ability to decipher and relay scientific information in a limited time to a lay audience of viewers. For example, each segment produced on the show may incorporate biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology behind each talking point. Then, once the science is easily explainable to the lay public, a demonstration is designed to reiterate the talking point. The talented graphical engineering staff on the set allowed researchers and producers the ability to explore the best teaching aids whether it was via animations, field shoots, or demonstrations.

Rotating at The Dr. Oz Show was a memorable experience, and I feel fortunate to have had such an opportunity. It was satisfying to utilize my knowledge base and creative talents to reach a nationwide audience. I left the studio at Rockefeller Center, after five exhilarating weeks, knowing that my hard work would benefit many individuals. In addition, this elective enhanced my skills as a professional and fostered new insights into my career as a pharmacist.

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