Article by Elisabeth Teichner | esPResso Committee Member
In the last couple of weeks, television personality Dr. Oz’s credibility has been called into question by his colleagues at Columbia University. As a prominent figure on and off daytime television, Dr. Mehmet Oz has gained a large following in recent years from his leading role on “The Dr. Oz Show.”
Starting as a frequent visitor on Oprah Winfrey’s show, Dr. Oz achieved a reputation of educating the general public about new methods of living healthy lifestyles. Popular topics he discusses include weight loss, prevention of diseases, as well as popular fad diets and claims. What some fans may not realize is that Dr. Oz is also a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon and vice-chair of the Department of Surgery at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, where he has worked for more than 20 years.
However, recently he has been under fire from a letter sent to the Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons by 10 physicians. The letter states that the physicians do not believe Dr. Oz should be working at the University let alone have such a high-level position.
The author of the letter, Dr. Henry I. Miller of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, told CBS News that he believes, “a person who endangers patients and is a menace to public health should not be on the faculty of a prestigious medical institution.”
Unfortunately for Dr. Oz, this is not the first time that his practices and what he promotes on air have been called into question. During an episode in 2011 he talked about arsenic in apple juice, which was quickly refuted by the FDA. The organization deemed his account “irresponsible and misleading.” A press release from the Juice Products Association states that “the Dr. Oz Show” did not use the FDA’s approved test method for arsenic in fruit juices.
Dr. Oz is not just standing by while the ousting continues. He has responded to his critics through his show and various other statements. In a TIME Magazine article Dr. Oz stated that his “exploration of alternative medicine has never been intended to take the place of conventional medicine, but rather as additive.” He was surprised by the letter that was sent to the Dean and that a few physicians were asking for his removal from the University as a faculty member.
As a public figure and TV personality, Dr. Oz must be cautious of his actions and statements. Because Columbia is also largely involved in this situation, University representatives must be cautious of what they say to the media and what information they divulge to the public. According to The New York Times, Columbia released a statement to The Associated Press on April 14 that says the University “is committed to the principle of academic freedom and to upholding faculty members’ freedom of expression for statements they make in public discussion.” It should also be noted that Columbia has not removed Dr. Oz from his position despite the demands of the 10 physicians.