Doctoring Reflection Social Media/Writing/Blogging

Six Reasons Why (I) Doctors Blog…

The Practice of Medicine inspires

I feel compelled to write because I am passionate about my work. For most doctors, Medicine plays out like a roller coaster—ups, downs and plenty of whooshes. It’s rarely dull. Doctor writers care about their work; we want it to be better. We need to tell the stories, and hope that doing so might help others.

To educate

The motivation to educate creates a win-win for all involved. Both the student (reader) and the teacher (doctor) learn. Of course, an Internet reader has to verify, weigh and consider an author’s motives and conflicts when reading a blog. But these judgments are normal when reading anything.

Remember how much you retained after giving a presentation? That’s what a blog does. Without doubt, this blog has made me a more informed doctor. The problem is that the more you see, the harder medicine gets.

To better mankind

Gooey, I know. But it’s true. As a whole, doctors are insanely competitive. Many of us measure our self-worth in how much we help people. In writing and publishing we aim to help in the plural.

For instance, I like to write about the paradox of being a heart doctor: Here we are every day using skills and technology to save people from a disease that could be prevented with simple lifestyle changes. As a cyclist, I have learned that success depends on making choices. It’s the same for being healthy. (Of course, both cycling and health also depend a bit on luck.)

To give a look behind the curtain

One of the most famous medical bloggers, Dr. Kevin Pho, a primary care doctor and author of Kevin MD spoke of his aim to pull the curtain back…”By shining a light on physicians’ frustrations that the mainstream media may ignore, perhaps we can get one step closer to resolving these issues.”

A good example is writing about the unintended consequences of well-meaning policies.

To archive useful information

In the old-days, doctors penned (literally) notebooks. These exhaustive notes rarely helped anyone other than the author. My epic notes from training collect dust in a basement. Social media has transformed and expanded the usefulness of our notes.

Dr. Ves Dimov, a University of Chicago allergist likens his Casesblog to a digital notebook. He hopes his e-notes educate both doctor and patient. Dr. Mike Cadogan, author of Life in the Fast Lane says his blog allows a way to archive his thoughts.

Reading the thoughts and notebooks of real doctors seems pretty useful to me. I would have loved to read the blog of a shoulder surgeon when researching my surgery. The confusion surrounding complicated diseases (cancer and atrial fib, for example) lends itself well to candid words from those in the know.

To display our humanness

My friend, Wes Fisher uses his blog, Dr Wes, as therapy. Thus far, and hopefully far into the future, computers have not replaced humans as the best caregivers. But humans come with flaws. Though doctors seek perfection, we tire, become frustrated, make mistakes, and harbor regrets. We are you. We are human. We like therapeutic stuff too.

The intensely human experience of doctoring inspires me to write. I want to tell you about all the cool stuff. I want to tell you about the human heart. Not just the one that pumps; the one that feels, and loves and grieves.


An additional reason to blog: I did not know this when I started, but now, seven years in, I learned that writing on the Internet connects you with people across the world. Due to this blog, I have friends in Australia, Germany, Belgium, France, Canada, South America and Mexico.

7 replies on “Six Reasons Why (I) Doctors Blog…”

Thank you for the wonderful post and sharing insights, John.

Blogging “To better mankind” is beyond reach for me, I think. However, I hope that my blogs helped “To educate” at least some of the readers who flipped through more than 8 million pages since 2005…

Doctors are highly-qualified experts who limit their impact only to patients they see – if they don’t publish, give lectures – and blog. In most cases, benefits far outweigh the risk and doctors should be encouraged to at least give it a try.

I tried to describe a practical and time-efficient approach here:

Social media in medicine: How to be a Twitter superstar and help your patients and your practice

Blogging also keeps you grounded and humble. Critical comments prompt you to back your clinical opinion, expressed in a blog post, with solid scientific references and that’s a good thing.

P.S. Just one small correction. I worked at Cleveland Clinic until 2008, and now I’m on staff at the University of Chicago where I am an Allergist/Immunologist and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine.

To John M and also To All Blogging Doctors…

Thank you for taking the time out of your crazy busy lives to discuss, educate, inform (not necessarily the same as educate), and give us a peek behind that curtain hiding the Wizard (I won’t make a humorous Dr. Oz comment here…I’ll let you do that).

Your human-ness is refreshing. I don’t see it often, but when I do, It stays with me for a long time.

A number of years ago, I worked in the lab (situated near the emergency room) of a small hospital. On a particular day, a very bad MVA came in. A 16 year old girl lay on her deathbed. They called her mother (who worked as a ward clerk there) to come to the ER stat. We could here her screaming from the ER through the heavy closed doors of the lab. Later, the ER doctor came to the lab to acknowledge that we, too, were affected by this tragedy and that he and others would be there for us if we wanted to talk.

I never forgot his human-ness in the face of that devastating trauma.

You beat me to it John. I was about to write this one! I sometimes that this world of almost infinite choice leads to more anxiety than calm – many of my patients and even I am overwhelmed with the roar of information. We (medical bloggers) try and filter, interpret, digest and communicate it for our patients and make it relevant. The act of doing so makes us think more deeply about what we really believe and allows us (me anyway) to be more articulate than we are in the real world. It also allows us to have some fun that we can’t always have at the coalface of medical care. Starting a blog has been the most rewarding thing I have done professionally in years. Thanks for your insights.

Always adore several changes in our technology nowadays that I think we should be enjoying these advancements that I believe will be a great part of our progression and development.

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