Medical Student Interns at ‘The Dr. Oz Show’

Bradley Frate, Mehmet Oz.

Published May 1, 2019

Bradley A. Frate, a student in this year’s graduating class of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, was looking for something different to do before graduation.

He found it by moving to New York City for a month to become a medical unit researcher for “The Dr. Oz Show.”

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What were your responsibilities with the show?

I worked with the medical unit as a medical student researcher. The unit consists of a supervising MD, a medical producer, and two full-time student producers who had taken a year off after their third year of medical school to work for the show. I worked with a couple of other medical student researchers who were also doing four-week rotations with the show as an elective. The job of the medical unit is to vet scripts for medical accuracy. We work closely with the producers to fact-check any medical or scientific claims made in the scripts.

What kinds of things were you asked to fact-check?

I’ve researched everything from the differences between chicken wings, chicken tenders and chicken fingers, and which brands of corn chips are healthiest, to the harmful effects of chemicals in pool flotation devices and the long-term effects of teeth-whitening products. Sometimes Dr. Oz is referenced in magazines, so I helped produce the content and also fact-checked his health advice. I also helped produce script content for a “Today Show” segment for Dr. Oz on alternatives to chronic pain management. I’ve also written and edited some posts for his website.

What was a typical day like?

A typical day for me started around 9 a.m., and what I did varied. Sometimes I would continue researching what I was working on the day before. Other times, the medical producer needed help with special projects. I also attended pitch meetings where we got to pitch ideas for future segments, as well as meet with producers to go through the scripts to make sure they were medically and scientifically accurate. We conducted field research, going out to swab various objects for germs, such as peoples’ home freezers versus those at restaurants. We also researched different store-bought products, which we used to conduct comparison experiments on the show. On filming days, I sometimes accompanied the full-time interns to the studio to fact-check last-minute information when guests go off script.

What was the best part of the job?

Being on set is pretty cool because I got to see the day to day of what goes into the filming process and how a daytime TV show works. I learned a lot about TV production just watching the crew. Dr. Oz was a very nice person and was always a pleasure to work with. The filming days were intense because we would sometimes film three episodes in the morning, and another two to three in the afternoon. The best part was getting to meet some celebrity guests.

Did you learn anything that you think will help you practice medicine?

Whenever I met with producers to go through the scripts, I had to concisely explain all of my research in a simple, straightforward way that viewers could understand. This skill is important not only in TV but also in medicine. It ensures that patients understand what is going on so they can make educated decisions about their health care. This experience has also shown me the importance of staying up to date on the latest research and being aware of what the general public is interested in, in regard to health and wellness. It also showed me how to tell which resources are credible and how to debunk others that patients may mention in the clinic in the future.

Matched to Diagnostic Radiology Residency

Frate will attend the University of Central Florida’s transitional-year program in Gainesville in July before returning to Western New York to begin his residency in diagnostic radiology at Rochester General Hospital. A transitional year is required by many advanced fields, including radiology.