• Tatum Lecture 2015

    Health care discussions now routinely occur across print, broadcast and digital media, including real-time interactive sources. These discussions both serve the public good by disseminating ongoing developments in knowledge about health, injury and disease, and proliferate questionable facts, opinions, and beliefs that must be addressed by all of us in health care and bioscience research. The 2015 Tatum Lecture, Medicine and the Media, to be held at noon April 7, 2015, in room R354, will focus on the impact of media discussions and representations of health, disease, the impact of illness, and approaches to prevention and treatment. This lecture, held annually as a memorial to and in honor of the pioneering work of Dr. Nancy O'Neal Tatum in establishing the first formal medical ethics program at UMMC, supports careful reflection on dilemmas confronted in the delivery of patient-centered care.

    Medicine and the Media will highlight three disciplinary perspectives concerning the influence of media examinations of health and disease through a panel discussion of the assumptions and dilemmas that can arise through various media interactions among health care professionals, established media outlets, blogs, and real-time digital forums engaged by the public, individuals, and other interested parties. The panel of experts, which will represent front-line medicine, broadcast reporting, and public relations, will include UMMC Professor of Pediatrics Dr. Hannah Gay, WLBT's news anchor Stephanie Bell Flynt, and UMMC's Chief of Public Affairs Tom Fortner.

    Dr. Gay recently learned that a career-long effort to pursue the highest standard of quality care for her patients can garner attention, wanted or not, as a national media icon. Thrust into such a role when one of her patients experienced a critically important period of functional cure from HIV as a result of Dr. Gay's proactive efforts, UMMC's most famous pediatrician will discuss how such unexpected attention places important burdens on a physician with respect to ensuring accuracy in health care communications, upholding patient privacy, and reporting health care outcomes to support the public health and good of the entire community. 

    She will be joined by Stephanie Bell Flynt, a veteran television broadcast journalist whose work has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists. In addition to detailing the responsibilities, skills and ethics of trained journalists in ensuring that the public remains aware of new developments in health care and research, Ms. Flynt will also help address the developed strategies in print and broadcast media for engaging health literacy concerns by language to bridge "fine print" that might otherwise be ignored to a potential "big picture." Thus she can provide information on how media strategies for working with "the story" might be redirected for use in patient communications by frontline health care providers.  Finally, UMMC's own Tom Fortner will contribute to the discussion by explaining how institutional public relations efforts within academic medical centers at home and across the country strive also to link research and service findings with a story that can  communicate wide-ranging developments in care, local implementations of such findings, local instances that illustrate them, and specific services that can be accessed - and how to do so - by individuals and communities within each institution's areas of service.

    By considering discrepancies between media and medical depictions of healthy function across the life cycle, the natural history of a disease, abbreviated lay definitions of medical concepts, and media summaries of approaches to care, the 2015 Tatum Lecture will help further thoughtful conversations within UMMC on the public media and digital technology platforms that now put health knowledge - or obfuscation thereof - easily within reach. By examining dilemmas associated with the impact of media focus on specific health topics for research and reporting, media versus medical authority in public understanding of health and illness, and real-time, real-life contests between these disparate sources of focus and authority in patient decision-making, the 2015 Tatum lecture will further the spirit of ethical investigations that characterized the contributions of Dr. Nancy O'Neal Tatum throughout the years of her practice as a family medicine physician in Petal and as a medical ethicist and faculty in Family Medicine at UMMC. By generating discussions on how Medicine and the Media might jointly better communicate medical realities, alongside novel treatments, the 2015 Tatum Lecture seeks to extend and enrich Dr. Tatum's legacy for patients and providers throughout Mississippi.