About being a ‘Professional Patient’


Re: Finding work as a Patient Advocate, or Ambassador, or “Patient Influencer” paid or unpaid.

Last time I posted it was about drumming up some extra dollars by promoting what’s called ‘disease awareness’ or speaking on behalf a drug that’s benefiting you personally. I  promised you a series on this subject. I’m delivering, starting now.

As you probably know, Doctors often work for drug companies or manufacturers of patented medical devices, as recently reported by the New York Times and other major media outlets regarding Memorial Sloane-Kettering’s chief medical officer (CMO), Oncologist Dr. Jose Baselga, who failed to thoroughly and completely disclose his financial ties to industry, particularly in the arena of research. The public outcry regarding the financial pressures brought to bear on the Medical field, something called ‘Institutional Corruption,’ is well-documented in Robert Whitaker and Lisa Cosgrove’s book, “Psychiatry Under the Influence.” (Whitaker wrote “Anatomy of An Epidemic” and “Mad In America,” and crusades for social justice in the treatment of mental illness. His blog, Mad In America, or MIA, is easily findable online. Also, if you’re curious about a medical professional, everything you need to know down to the catered lunches is ‘supposed’ to be on Pro Publica’s “Dollars for Docs.” Dr. Baselga forgot to mention a few arrangements he had, more than a few times, it’s said.

My point? Doctors aren’t perceived as trustworthy as they were in the fifties and sixties, when they did commercials telling people of studies proving cigarettes weren’t harmful. Back then, a white lab coat could sell anything.

For a while Drug companies used celebrity spokespeople to push their products, like Sally Field, Blythe Danner (Gwyneth Paltrow’s Mom), Professional Golfer Phil Mickelson, (Enbrel for his Psoriatic Arthritis), but research shows an inverse relationship between fame and relatability. Just because someone is well-known doesn’t mean you’ll go out on a limb and ‘Ask Your Doctor if Drug X is Right for You.’ What they’re looking for these days is the real patient, the everyday person, doing every day things, and the depth of their story.


Patients with otherwise unremarkable lives, like me, or you, are the last bastion of credibility.

The Drug Companies, Ad Agencies, PR Firms, Patient Advocacy Groups, they all want to hear our stories, whether they are stories of success or stories about our struggle. My next post will tell you where to find a few people who are constantly looking for us.

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