Virtual Mentor

Why Patient Trust Matters and How We Can Strengthen It: A Profession/Public Service Announcement Video Contest

"Trust is an important lubricant of a social system," writes Nobel Laureate economist Kenneth Arrow. "It is extremely efficient; it saves a lot of trouble to have a fair reliance on other people’s word" [1]. According to Arrow, there are significant costs and consequences when trust is lost, and the time, effort, and investment required to regain trust are substantial.

In medicine, trust is essential to a therapeutic patient-physician relationship. Individuals who are injured or ill are vulnerable—physically, emotionally and, increasingly, financially. This vulnerability demands that physicians conduct themselves in an ethical manner worthy of a patient’s trust and confidence. That said, there are many changes and challenges confronting the practice of medicine and the US health care system that threaten to undermine patient trust in physicians and public confidence in medicine. Increasing calls to control the unsustainable cost of health care may cause some patients to wonder whether physicians are acting in their best interest. There are some who may even view medicine more like a business, as a service transaction between a consumer and provider, and not as a caring enterprise. While that may be the sentiment of some, the editorial staff of Virtual Mentor (VM), the American Medical Association’s online ethics journal, believes that patient trust remains central to good doctoring.

To promote greater awareness and understanding of the importance of trust in medicine and how to strengthen it, VM is pleased to announce our first-ever educational video contest. A complement to the written word in the articles and commentaries that comprise each monthly issue of VM, this profession/public service announcement (PSA) video will be another, we hope, entertaining way for us to engage and educate our audience while meeting our editorial mission of strengthening the ethics and professionalism of current and future generations of physicians.

The PSA educational videos will be judged on their applicability to the topic—"why patient trust matters"—their creativity, and the clarity of their message. We encourage entries that employ a variety of visual approaches to telling the "trust" story (e.g., documentary, actor portrayal, animated clips). The creators of the two best videos from the physician category, which includes medical students and residents/fellows will be awarded $5,000 each, and the creators of the two best videos from the general public will also be awarded $5,000 each. If two or more individuals collaborate on a video submission, they will share the prize. Videos must be original, must not have been previously published in any format, and must not be submitted for consideration to any other publication or contest during the review period.

One video submission (in a 1280X720 resolution .MOV file) is permitted per person; videos made outside the U.S. are ineligible; and AMA employees and their families may not submit entries. Videos should be no longer than 3 minutes. The final screen/shot of the video should include the name(s) and contact information of the individual(s) who made and submitted the video (the names and contact info should not appear anywhere else in the video). Release forms from all individuals depicted in the video must accompany the submission. The American Medical Association will retain all copyright to the winning video submissions, and the creator(s) of the video will be acknowledged in any reproduction or dissemination of the video footage.

Entries must be received by 5:00 p.m. CST, December 10, 2012. Please submit your video and signed release forms by "sharing" it with Virtual Mentor on Dropbox. You will need to sign up with Dropbox in order to share your files with us (registration is free). Please email Kelly Shaw at in order to access our shared folder on Dropbox, and for any other questions you may have.


  1. Arrow KJ. The Limits of Organization. New York, NY: W.W. Norton and Company; 1974: 23.