About this project
This is a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for DO NO HARM, a feature-length documentary by Robyn Symon, a two-time Emmy Award-winning filmmaker. DO NO HARM exposes the silent epidemic of physician suicide as the ’tip of the iceberg’ of a sick health care system that puts not only physicians' lives at risk but their patients as well. Physicians dedicate their lives to helping and often saving others. Yet according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, they have THE highest rate of suicide among ALL professions. The medical community has known this for years, yet little has been done. It's been medicine’s dirty secret. Until now.
Below please find a 7 POINT PLAN for the critical uses of funds from this campaign; all are designed to promote awareness about physician suicide, expose a flawed culture, and create a climate for change. We will influence policy change through a grassroots effort, bringing the film - and its message - directly to medical schools, teaching hospitals, clinics, and medical conferences throughout the world. The more we raise, the more outreach we can do. PLEASE SUPPORT ... every dollar counts!
SUMMARY OF FILM:
A significant truth exposed by this film is that poor treatment of our doctors puts us ALL at risk. Marathon work hours lead to sleep deprivation which in turn increases the incidence of medical mistakes.
DO NO HARM examines the root causes of the epidemic and casts a spotlight on a broken system which has been harming our healers and through extension, harming us all. It examines intimate stories of suicidal doctors and grieving families who've suffered the ultimate loss. Their words are stark, honest, and compelling, and serve as a heartfelt backdrop to commentary and analysis by best-selling authors and educators who reveal the flawed culture underlying this epidemic. The film meets with leaders of the ACGME, AAMC, and AMA and engages them about the complicated issues underlying the overall system, and what their organizations can better do to protect our doctors and by doing that, protect our patients, and our society - all of us. Thanks for reading.
DO NO HARM won the prestigious 2016 Roy W. Dean Grant for feature film documentary. It was cited for its importance of concept and its vision. The decision was unanimous.
BY VIRTUE OF ITS FISCAL SPONSORSHIP, ALL PLEDGES MADE TO THIS CAMPAIGN ARE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE; LETTERS, AS REQUIRED, WILL BE SENT TO BACKERS AFTER THE CAMPAIGN.
Funds from this Kickstarter will be used for the following:
1. We will launch a targeted publicity, marketing, and distribution campaign for this film, to maximize its reach in the places it can do the most good. While outside distribution can and will help us with screenings at film festivals, art house theaters, television and streaming sites (like Netflix and Amazon), we will also implement and control a grassroots effort to show the film where we think it should be shown (see #2, below). We will hire a PR team to mount a campaign for the film that will highlight a flawed medical culture, the impact of managed care and the unacceptable conditions that physicians are required to endure.
2. We will launch a grassroots outreach effort for screenings at medical schools, teaching hospitals, medical conferences, clinics, even town halls and in some cases, where feasible, these screenings might be attended by Dr. Wible, me or others in the film. To do this effectively requires a dedicated and knowledgeable staff, and materials.
3. We will edit versions of the film (and a variety of trailers) that make it more compatible for showings with Q&A, and at educational forums like classrooms and conferences, where there are time constraints.
4. We will partner with hundreds of entities (like care2, AMSA, and others) in the medical, suicide prevention, mental health and patient safety fields to screen the film and participate in live events (such as the Day of Solidarity and Watch Parties).
5. Recognizing that this is a global epidemic, we will share the message beyond U.S. borders through outreach and alliances.
To do the five items above, and maximum effectiveness, requires significant funds, yet - if funds reach a level allowing us to do still more:
6. We want to create an interactive website as a resource for communication and sharing.
7. We want to play an active role in the effort to advance hearings and discourse with authorities who have the power to alter policy and even legislate change.
THE "MESSAGE" OF THE FILM
This film shines a light on a deadly issue of great societal consequence. The message of this film is: "This terrible thing is happening, and here are the horrible stats. Here are the reasons why it is happening, and here are the wide range of victims. Here are the things that could be changed, and some of the players who could use their power and influence to bring about change. Let's all consider this film to be a call to action."
For every doctor who dies by the act of suicide, thousands more contemplate the act, and many thousands more are depressed, and/or dangerously fatigued due to marathon work hours. The sleep deprivation experienced by doctors adds risk to every patient they treat, and medical mistakes are now the third leading cause of death - affecting us all. Our doctors work within a system that fosters unrealistic expectations, imbues them with an inability to either emote, admit their humanity, and/or seek counsel, and forces upon them unsafe parameters and conditions that puts them and their patients at risk. It is not unusual for a hospital (or medical center) physician to treat several thousands of patients per year. Given the current annual physician suicide rate, this means more than 1 million patients are directly impacted - each year! Yes, this qualifies - not only as an epidemic, but as an urgent public health crisis. And we're all affected.
"When you haven't slept in days it's like you're under the influence. And you're making life and death decisions in that state." - Delicia Haynes, M.D.
FLAWED CULTURE / BROKEN SYSTEM
THE STATISTICS ARE OMINOUS. Doctors are twice as likely to die by suicide as the rest of the general population. Women doctors ... even more so. But those statistics - ominous as they are - understate the actual numbers. Because when a doctor takes his/her own life, suicide is often not listed as the cause of death on the death certificate. And medical students who take their own lives are not systematically tracked so their numbers remain uncounted.
IT BEGINS IN MEDICAL SCHOOL: Medical students face pressure to master huge amounts of material, for which there is intense competition. Many report faculty intolerance and excessive criticism. Meanwhile, they accumulate enormous financial debt, which traps them in their pursuit of a degree. They are young and vital - but instead of experiencing fun social interactions typical of those their age, too often it's just study and social isolation. Compassion for their plight is nonexistent in their institution and they fear that if they seek help on the record, they'll be stigmatized and even punished. So they conceal their emotions. The NY Times reported that 9.4% of 4th year medical students and interns, when asked, said they had at least one suicidal thought ... in the previous two weeks!
WORK, WORK, WORK: After the classroom, comes internship and residency. The hours are long - more than the human body and mind is perhaps geared to endure. They've gone from being immersed in textbooks to being immersed in actual human suffering - forced to work while dangerously sleep-deprived - many on 24+ hour shifts that would be illegal in other countries.
THE CULTURE: Expectations are sky high. Mistakes are not tolerated. Doctors are seen as heroes, and this fuels their need to be perfect. But nobody is perfect. Medical mistakes are now the third leading cause of death, after heart disease and cancer. Young doctors become increasingly numb to their own feelings. They are expected to be superhuman, so how can they acknowledge vulnerability? And if they wanted to discuss it, where would they go? Who could they trust? And how might they be judged? They become masters of disguise, concealing their emotions, unable to voice the doubts and fears and feelings we all have; for theirs is a culture full of machismo and intolerance.
THE SYSTEM: The system is cold. Many systems are. Health care is increasingly driven by dollars, workload, and the bottom line.
“The very survival of our nation's teaching hospitals is being threatened as managed care reshapes the medical marketplace” says David Duncan, author of the book “Peril and Promise of Educating Young Doctors.”
How can a doctor feeling depressed and/or suicidal, in an unimpassioned and judgmental setting, be comfortable expressing his/her feelings? To whom do they express them?
SOLUTIONS: DO NO HARM addresses a range of solutions with activists and with entities empowered to legislate change. The filmmakers believe the importance of this film is underscored by the fact that things don't have to be this way. Solutions can be simple. In fact, some have already been implemented - from cutting-edge curriculur changes in medical schools to more humane working conditions in our hospitals and clinics. Allowing our doctors to be human may be the simplest solution. When this film is released and knowledge of this epidemic becomes more widely known, pressures to solve it will increase. But to solve the epidemic and roll back the ominous statistics, the code of silence must be broken, the masquerade of concealment must be lessened. Doctors need to be afforded the same outreach opportunities we already extend to our police and firefighters. The culture has to change.
“We take these sweet and innocent idealistic young doctors who just want to help and heal, and we crush their souls by forcing them to practice assembly-line medicine, seeing as many as 40 patients a day. Do we really want a doctor who is sleep deprived or suicidal to treat our grandmothers in the emergency room?” - Dr. Pamela Wible
THE FILM ITSELF
DO NO HARM unfolds through the eyes and experiences of four main characters. Each has experienced tragedy (or near tragedy). Later in the film, their lives intersect.
John and Michele Dietl are the parents of Kevin Dietl, who took his life three weeks before graduating medical school. Dr. Pamela Wible is a physician, once suicidal herself, who now runs a hotline and a retreat and has been called a guardian angel to suicidal doctors and med students. Hawkins Mecham is a fourth-year med student who attempted suicide and was saved by a fortuitous phone call from his wife just before he bled to death. Character revelations mix with factual discoveries to create the dramatic threads that take us through an urgent, complex and often disturbing issue.
We learn shocking statistics. We learn about a convergence of pressures facing doctors and med students. We learn that they are trapped, unable or unwilling to share their feelings and seek help, and we learn why. We learn about unfair treatment, bullying, and abuse. We learn about system-wide cover-ups and a culture of secrecy. Most disturbing, we learn how our healthcare system - in so many new ways we haven't yet understood - prioritizes profits over patient care and safety.
DO NO HARM also informs, as it follows our characters pursuing their shared quest to bring attention to the issues and affect change. The Dietls give heart-wrenching testimony at the Missouri State Capitol in hopes of effectuating new legislation.
We meet experts and authors who give us insight as to how we got here, and why the system is so slow to accept reform. But we also see people who are beginning to offer solutions. We see hope. Dr. Wible gives an impassioned TEDMED talk that is streamed to more than 100 countries!
And we witness a Day of Solidarity and candlelight vigil (which occurred in 10 cities in the summer of 2016) that drives home the critical message that doctors and patients must unite to demand the kind of reform, the real change, that will reverse the statistics, and thus increase the quality of health care for all.
“The physician must be able to tell the antecedents, know the present, and foretell the future — must mediate these things, and have two special objects in view with regard to disease, namely, to do good and to do no harm.” - the Greek physician Hippocrates, author of The Hippocratic Oath.
MEET THE FILMMAKER
Robyn Symon is a two-time Emmy Award-winner, and an accomplished writer, producer/director, and editor. She began as a television news reporter in Texas, then joined PBS in Miami where she hosted and produced documentaries, public affairs programs and the TV series Florida! (6 seasons; Travel Channel). She wrote and produced the docu-series "Voices of Vision," which focused on the work of non-profit organizations worldwide. She has produced hundreds of hours of TV series for major cable networks including Discovery, CNBC, HGTV and currently produces a series on the Reelz Channel. Prior film credits include: “Transformation: The Life & Legacy of Werner Erhard,” acquired for international distribution by Screen Media Films and “Behind the Blue Veil,” about the ancient Tuareg in North Africa, which was distributed by Journeyman Pictures. Her most recent documentary - "Uncle Gloria: One Helluva Ride!" - is currently on the film festival circuit.
MEET THE TEAM
Pamela Wible, M.D.
Pamela Wible, M.D. is a family physician who realized that to better heal her patients she ﬁrst had to heal her ailing profession. Her community clinic - open since 2005 - has been used as a model for clinics and hospitals nationwide. Her model is featured in Harvard School of Public Health’s newest edition of Renegotiating Health Care. Dr. Wible is a best-selling author (Pet Goats & Pap Smears and Physician Suicide Letters - Answered), and devotes herself actively to medical student and physician suicide prevention for which she was the focus of a primetime segment on America Tonight. She has been named one of the 2015 Women Leaders in Medicine, and TEDMED calls her the “Physicians’ Guardian Angel.”
Monya De, M.D., M.P.H.
Dr. Monya De is a physician in internal medicine and a journalist. She represents the California Medical Association at the national level. She is an advocate for improvements in health care technology, protections for medical residents, and a shift to wellness-focused, integrative patient care. She is the co-author of Minerals: The Forgotten Nutrient. She has been a reporter for the ABC News' Medical Unit, a commentator for the television show "Hopkins," a script consultant for shows including Harry's Law, The Ghost Whisperer, Brothers and Sisters, House, and The Firm, and her work has been published in the Los Angeles Times, The Economist, the LA Weekly, and The New Physician.
Jill Zeiger, M.D.
Dr. Jill Zeiger has been an emergency physician for more than twenty years. She is also a medical consultant and an Executive Producer of Do No Harm. She consults with the National Physicians' Council for Health Care Policy - a group of doctors working to educate Congress about the challenging regulation-related issues facing patients as well as physicians.
Says Robyn: "Suicide is tragic in all its forms, no matter the subject. But when a doctor is the victim of suicide, the ripple effects add great scope and impact to the tragedy. It's societal.
As a documentary filmmaker, I have tackled many subjects. I've never encountered a more important subject than this, nor been as personally taken in. It's not just a U.S. issue either - the UK, India, Australia, and many other countries have experienced similar problems. It's a global epidemic.
DO NO HARM is and needs to be an absolutely independent film. I am grateful we have Kickstarter. This is our second campaign, and should it prove successful, this film will be completed and shown. It is a privilege and an honor for me to tell this story and make this film. Thanks to all who have supported, all who support now, and all who share and help spread the word."
BUDGET, TIMELINE, & USE OF PROCEEDS
This section applies to original target funds used to complete the film only. For more on Use of Proceeds from incremental funds, see The Plan, above.
Post-Production as listed includes sound mixing, color correction, and other adjustments. Editing (separated from other Post-Production elements) includes creation of trailer, sample reels, and a full-length rough and fine cut. The original score (also separated from other Post-Production elements) is considered by the filmmaker to be crucial to this film. Other includes follow-up, travel, and festival entry. The timeline commences immediately upon KS funding (knock on wood) and it is expected that the first rough cut will be completed in the Fall of 2017.
We came to Kickstarter for three reasons: Independence, Vision, and Collaboration.
Independence - funds from Kickstarter would allow us the freedom to tell this story while serving no master ... but the truth.
Vision - this film tells its story using voices of people most personally affected. Our vision is that their voices be heard and serve as a catalyst to bring about change.
Collaboration - any systemic change requires the collaboration of many. What better place for us than Kickstarter, where the power of collaboration takes place every day.
ABOUT THE REWARDS
DELIVERY DATES - are all listed as April, 2018 as the outside date for delivery of the film. It is expected that many Rewards will be fulfilled much earlier.
MAKING "CHOICES" - like size of T-shirt - is all done AFTER the campaign.
CAN YOU DO THIS? If you want a Reward not listed the way you want it, we can try to accommodate you. At the top left of the page on the left there is a small round photo of Robyn. Click that, then click CONTACT US. Send a message,
T-SHIRT ART - we're thinking of what art is appropriate, respectful, and makes the shirt special. If you have an idea, reach out.
TICKETS TO THE LA OR NY PREMIERE - these are transferable, so if you don't live near either location and can't make the dates, give the tickets to someone who can.
HONORING YOUR LOVED ONES - IN MEMORIAM - these are two Rewards we take very seriously. Let us know about your loved one or good friend, and we'll make it special.
If you've got questions, we've got answers. Robyn and the team are pleased to engage. At the top left of the page on the left there is a small round photo of Robyn. Click that, then click CONTACT US. Send a message, we're happy to listen and respond.
BY VIRTUE OF A FISCAL SPONSORSHIP WITH FROM THE HEART PRODUCTIONS (A 501c NON-PROFIT), ALL PLEDGES MADE TO THIS CAMPAIGN ARE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE; LETTERS, AS REQUIRED, WILL BE SENT TO BACKERS AFTER THE CAMPAIGN.
Risks and challenges
Making a full length feature film is a challenge for anyone, even for a major studio. It is a substantial endeavor, with many moving parts.
Our crew has already traveled on location and shot its principal footage. This is our second Kickstarter campaign (the first was successful) and the funds raised here are for finishing funds. That means editing the principal footage into a rough cut, taking it through all the post production enhancements (sound edit, color correction, etc.), and adding a musical score (very important for a film like this). Though these items represent real costs, they are predictable. Furthermore, Robyn is an experienced filmmaker who has learned to assemble a realistic budget, scope of work, and schedule.
Accordingly, while there might ideally be more funding that would be helpful for marketing and distribution, we can say for certain that if this Kickstarter campaign succeeds, the film Do No Harm will be completed, will be shown at festivals, and all rewards will be delivered fully.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Support this project
- (44 days)