Leaders in Medical Education

Dr. Michele Berman and Dr. Mark Boguski, Celebrity Diagnosis

Osmosis Team
Published on Sep 12, 2014. Updated on Invalid date.

Dr. Mark Boguski and Dr. Michele Berman are the husband and wife team behind the website Celebrity Diagnosis. Dr. Berman is a pediatrician by training and Dr. Boguski is a pathologist. The pair had dedicated their careers to making reliable medical information both accessible and easy to understand. We were delighted to speak with both Dr. Berman and Dr. Boguski about their website and their thoughts about medical education.

How did you decide on a career in medicine?

Dr. Berman
: I always liked biology and health sciences seemed like the natural progression of that.

Dr. Boguski: Going as far back as high school, I always liked biology more than the other sciences. Additionally, everyone has experienced  some sort of medical problem with either themselves or their family over the course of their lifetime which can influence someone to go into medicine. Medicine today is very different than what it was when we were thinking about going to medical school. We embrace change; there was no such thing as social media and the internet was in its early stages when we were in medical school. We have adapted and contributed to the evolving landscape of medical practice and education.

What made you specialize in pediatrics/pathology?

Berman: I like pediatrics because I really like to be around kids. It is an ever changing and ever evolving system going from needs of  infants through adolescents unnamed1and young adults. That adds an additional layer of challenge. Plus, you never have to grow up when you are a pediatrician, you can always act like a kid which is fun. Lastly, kids are not usually sick through fault of their own. You are not constantly yelling at them to stop smoking or stop drinking. The kids are not to blame for their ailments and I enjoy that aspect of pediatrics.

Boguski: We do not mean to suggest that when a patient gets sick it is their fault. However, there are certain lifestyle factors that need to be dealt with by a patient and a physician. We think that we are doing that more effectively through our educational and social media work than we are with individual patient interactions.

As for me going into pathology, I am an MD/PhD which means that I am scientifically oriented person. I have done a lot of basic and applied research in biomedical topics and pathology is the closest mindset to a scientific view of medicine.

What inspired you to found Celebrity Diagnosis?

Berman: When you watch TV as a medical doctor and you see the news or TV shows talking about medical stories and getting them wrong, it drives you crazy, especially when celebrities are involved. Often you are given the story and the story is not medically correct, so we wanted to be able to both give the correct information and to supply details about the story.

Boguski: Simply, we wanted to give the medical facts behind the headlines. Five or six years ago when we started this, social media was still rather new. We saw that as a new channel of communication of information that ordinarily would be published in a print on paper journal, the radio, or television show. We found that blogging and other forms of social media were exciting and stimulating new ways for us to engage patients and other consumers of health information and services.

What is your goal for Celebrity Diagnosis?
Boguski: Our goal is to increase health literacy and medical knowledge. As people have to pay more and more out of pocket for their own health care, including not only treatment but also prevention, it really is important that they be educated consumers. There is a lot of things out there, some of the sources legitimate, authentic, and authoritative, while other sources are just snake oil. We try to give people not only the facts but also the critical thinking skills they need to evaluate health and wellness products and medical practices.

What do you think are the biggest challenges that medical students face?
Boguski: It is not so much the challenges the students face, it is the challenges with the interactions between educators and students. Most of the people teaching in medical schools are of an older generation and they are not used to mobile technologies or students pulling out their iPads to access information immediately. In traditional medical education, once you get beyond the printed material in textbooks, physicians are largely knowledgeable, learned intermediaries who have a lot of information in their heads. However, now students do not need to access that information because they can look up the answers to the questions they have in seconds on a mobile device. This is greatly changing the dynamic between students and teachers.


What changes do you think need to be made to bridge the gap between technology and medical education?
Boguski: There is an old saying in medicine that goes, "See one, do one, teach one" and this principle still applies. You can read about something in a book and you can retain some of that information, but when seeing something affect a real patient, it becomes a much more effective learning opportunity. You can be on morning rounds, a patient will display some classic symptoms that you might have learned from a textbook two years earlier but now you actually see it in real time. This now becomes a teachable moment. Our whole premise is that teachable moments in the past have been almost accidental things that you cannot anticipate. Through our work, with social media we have systematized the whole process of creating teachable moments. Teachable moments do not necessarily have to be a patient that you are seeing one-on-one but it can be done vicariously through the health conditions of famous people; not only Hollywood type celebrities but also elite athletes and the other minor celebrities that we cover.