Heart surgeon and marketer agree to switch roles for a day

A routine business meeting at Evergreen Hospital ended with the vice president of marketing agreeing to perform heart surgery. The move followed a heated discussion on the merits of a marketing tactic suggested by a heart surgeon.

Janet Nolan, MD, a cardiovascular surgeon, was advocating for printing advertising on java jackets (coffee cup wraps) to help address a persistent lag in cardiology consults.

“Everyone drinks coffee, and many will eventually require cardiovascular intervention,” said Dr. Nolan. “And think of all the caffeine-induced arrhythmias we’d be in front of. The strategy is so obvious it makes you question the intelligence of our marketing staff.”

Vice President of Marketing Ted Beech tried to counter Dr. Nolan by stressing the referral-driven nature of cardiac care, as well as the high cost of printing thousands of custom coffee cup wraps compared with the minimal conversion rate. Finding no flexibility from Dr. Nolan, Beech played the logic card:

“Look, I don’t tell you how to perform heart surgery,” said Beech. “Why won’t you trust that I know what’s best when it comes to marketing?”

Shocking those in attendance, Dr. Nolan offered to let Beech perform surgery if he would consider the coffee cup wrap strategy. Feeling he had to step up the challenge, Beech agreed. He has been scheduled to perform a normally simple aortic valve repair on a 52-year old male early next week.

“Of course I’m terrified,” said Beech, explaining that unfortunate provisions of HIPAA actually preclude him from warning the patient of this unprecedented move. Staff have coined the switch “Dare to Care” after administration rejected a “Freaky Surgery Friday” moniker. If the surgery is successful, Beech has promised to print 500,000 coffee cup wraps with the slogan “Considering heart surgery? Sip the best service around at Evergreen Hospital.”


  1. Gregg Masters said:

    Cute and illustrative of the ‘grand canyon divide’ between medicine and marketing (or any other lay activity for that matter)….tho; can’t we all get along?

    What underlies this ‘organic bias’, i.e., I know better than you?

    I suggest it’s self righteousness; a disease in its own right; there is hope tho, it’s called ‘Al-anon’ or the ‘Mankind Project’ plus others, where members decide to reject the temptation of making others the source of their pain.

    Put another way, the goal is to stop attempting to manage someone’s else ‘reality’.

    Good luck in the OR!