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November 26, 2018

Lessons learned from Dr. Oz internship: M4 Michelle Baer aims to use communication to help patients lead healthier lives

Fourth-year medical student Michelle Baer spent a one-month internship on The Dr. Oz Show in October 2018. "I was really interested in finding out how he shares his information so that I can one day incorporate that into my own practice."

Fourth-year medical student Michelle Baer spent a one-month internship on The Dr. Oz Show in October 2018. “I was really interested in finding out how he shares his information so that I can one day incorporate that into my own practice.”

Fourth-year medical student Michelle Baer understands the hunger people have for trustworthy information on fitness and health.

She craves it herself.

A part-time fitness instructor and nutrition coach, Baer is always looking for ways to help people lead healthier lives. So it was a no-brainer, she said, when she had the opportunity to intern with the Dr. Oz TV show for four weeks this fall.

“It was a great experience,” she says. “I was really interested in finding out how he shares his information so that I can one day incorporate that into my own practice. We have all this knowledge as health care providers, but how do we best relay it all in a 10- to 15-minute appointment?”

Baer helped research and shape content for the show, fact-checking information and researching data. She worked closely with producers to help write the scripts.

“Michelle impressed me with her enthusiasm,” says Michael Crupain, M.D., medical unit chief of staff for the Dr. Oz Show. “She jumped right in there and was a valuable member of the team.”

The show employs two to three interns a month. These medical students are in their third or fourth years of school. Some stay one month, like Baer, while others are on set for a full year.

The show delves into a variety of topics, including food safety, nutrition, health trends, skin care, fitness and new products on the market. Baer helped research the benefits of apple cider vinegar and coconut oil, among other things.

“What was great was I also got to work on things for Dr. Oz’s other platforms, like his website and Instagram page,” she says.

During her one-month internship on The Dr. Oz Show, fourth-year Michelle Baer helped research and shape content for the show and worked closely with producers to help write the scripts.

During her one-month internship on The Dr. Oz Show, fourth-year Michelle Baer helped research and shape content for the show and worked closely with producers to help write the scripts.

Mostly, she worked behind the scenes, but had the opportunity to interact with Dr. Oz several times.

“He is very personable,” she says. “My first day he walked up to me and gave me a bottle of honey he had made. You can tell he is passionate about what he does. He really cares.”

Growing up in and around New York City, Baer knew early on she wanted to pursue a career in health. She holds a bachelor’s degree in human biology, health and society from Cornell University and a master’s from Columbia University in human nutrition and metabolic biology.

During her first semester of medical school, Baer worked at the World Health Organization helping to develop a costing tool that details the long-term advantages of preventive care. She has been a certified yoga instructor since 2014, and in 2016 joined Boho Studios in Richmond as a health coach and fitness instructor.

“It seems there are health bloggers popping up out there every two minutes,” Baer says. “But you don’t know what their qualifications are. It’s difficult to find reliable information. I want to be a source people can trust.”

Baer is enrolled in fmSTAT, the medical school’s Family Medicine Scholar Training and Admission Track that’s designed to develop and nurture students interested in family medicine careers. After medical school, she hopes integrate preventive medicine, holistic care and patient advocacy into her own practice.

“As people are becoming more invested in their own health, they are asking more questions,” she says. “We need to be able to provide the information they want, hone it down and make it succinct and understandable. If we don’t, they will never make the changes they need to make to lead healthier lives. I feel that’s what being a doctor is all about.”

By Janet Showalter

Virginia Commonwealth University
VCU Medical Center
School of Medicine
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