This article in the NYTimes today was very encouraging.
Free pens — bearing the names of drugs like Viagra and Januvia rather than the letters NYC — litter doctors’ offices all across New York, part of an often-criticized strategy by drug company sales representatives known as detailers, who traditionally go from waiting room to waiting room giving gifts to entice doctors to prescribe their products.
Now in New York, there is a new kind of detailer: people like Ms. Franklin, who are part of a campaign by the city to use pharmaceutical industry marketing savvy to spread the word about healthy practices to doctors in neighborhoods where patients often have the least access to the latest news in health care.
I think it's a very creative and simple way to engage health care providers in their patients' well being. In particular, I liked that this article highlighted a domestic violence prevention campaign, which does not usually fall in the duty of health care providers. Yet doctors are in a special position to speak to their patients honestly and confidentially about not just their bodily functions but their family situations too. I hope this idea takes off. I would gladly use a free domestic violence prevention pen.
I have no illusions that physicians are limited in their ability to mediate domestic violence. I mean, we're not asking them to all quit their jobs and work at domestic violence shelters. I think that we should recognize that health care providers have within them opportunities to care for their patients in many ways, and we should make use of them. All they can do is ask their patients and coax them into seeking help. But even "just" talking about domestic violence can have a powerful effect to recognize that abuse happens and to offer help.
In that spirit, I want to plug MSU Safe Place. I'm proud that MSU has its own domestic violence shelter. It is the only university in the country with a shelter program. Its shelter, counseling, and support services are free, confidential, and for MSU students, faculty, staff, their families and children. Like the article emphasized, dating and domestic violence happens to young people, old people, married couples, and unmarried couples, so college students can just as much be abusive relationships.