More Than Cup Counters

Dear Editor: I read the piece about your efforts (successful) to create a forum for pharmaceutical meeting planners [“The Power of Partnership,” June 2005]. You did what I used to do, but what most meeting planners are not involved with, but should be — that is planning the content of the sessions. That is the most important part, and meeting professionals must be involved in it if they are to be considered true professionals. Doug Heath [former executive director, Meeting Professionals International; professor, hospitality management, University of North Texas, Denton] said a long time ago that meeting planners should be more than coffee cup counters. Good for you for wanting to experience what the other side has been doing, but especially for taking it to the point where you actually planned the content, with the help of the people who were going to be there.

I really admire you and the folks who do your magazines, and have often held up your four magazines as those with solid educational content. They should be called journals.
Lincoln Colby, CMP
Retired Meeting Planning Executive, Merck & Co.
Palmetto, Fla.

Pharma Bashing

Dear Editor: I enjoyed reading your interview with Maureen Doyle-Scharff on the CME “debate” [“Big Plans, Big Picture,” June 2005]. On industry bashing, however, I suspect providers will continue to remain silent while their verbal colleagues bash the pharmaceutical industry. Providers are not unlike a member of a corporate entity, with its own culture, a “written code of conduct,” and the “actual code of conduct” — rules that dictate silence and obedience to the brotherhood of the medical community. Industry-bashing is mainstream. Speaking up for industry may only mean that you've been paid off by pharmaceutical companies. What providers in their self-preserving common sense would go against the grain of what is fashionable right now? When enough voices of dissent about industry-bashing are heard, we'll start reading about how industry contributes to medical education and healthcare. The public may even start believing that pharmaceutical companies care about patients more than profits. Until then, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for that critical mass of unfashionable logic to emerge from the medical community.
Jane Chin, PhD
President, Medical Science Liaison Institute
Redondo Beach, Calif.

Politically Correct or Professionally Competent?

Dear Editor: I agree with you: The quality of care given to patients is a professional competency issue, not an issue of political correctness or cultural competency [“PC or not PC?” by Sue Pelletier, June 2005]. First of all, the term, politically correct is an oxymoron: there is no “right” or “wrong” judgment of political decisions; they are “political.” Second, the universal language, and especially the language in the United States, is English. Over the past 200 years in the United States, doctors have used someone to help overcome the language barrier, when necessary. Third, the challenge to healthcare professionals and patients regarding cultural beliefs has also been around for the last 200 years. Patients would not go to a doctor until they had to (a sign of weakness, to which some men still subscribe), and if they did go, would not question a doctor's assessment or procedure (physicians are like God). The healthcare profession started out as surgeons and only performed the obvious surgery, when needed. But the profession is changing to a prevention mode where the patient can take some responsibility for his or her well-being, and the health professional can be involved in prevention, early detection, and improved outcomes.

Diversity training is a sideways move (if not backwards) that does not address the real problem. Isn't the problem the lack of ability of the patient to communicate health issues (in their cultural context) to the healthcare professional? Charging the physician with the responsibility for cultural competency is addressing only half of the problem. The New Jersey legislature and governor should put an equal effort into the health education of all its citizens; or better yet, put all their effort into health and language education for all its citizens, who will then demand, through patient-physician contact, professional competency that is culture-blind.

People from all cultures need to learn to speak the universal language of the healthcare professionals. The reality is that you can have a two-way conversation only if the two people involved speak the same language, both literally and figuratively.
Tom L. Kelly, PE
Director of Engineering EndoVascular Instruments, Inc.
Vancouver, Wash.

Krugman by Any Other Name

Dear Editor: I was so pleased to receive this year's excellent Beyond Borders supplement [June 2005] and especially pleased that you took such serious note of what my name would be if I were Latin American [“Test Your Latin American IQ”]. I am, alas, only Latin American in spirit, not by birth, so for the record, I am not Carol Lynn Krugman Stern, but still just Carol Krugman, CMP, CMM, until further notice!
Carol Krugman, CMP, CMM
President/CEO Krugman Group International, Inc. (KGI)
St. Petersburg, Fla.