Female Physician Bloggers Take Readers behind the Scenes
The first blog—ever—was written in January 1994. While estimates vary, here in the U.S. we have the opportunity to read at least 30 million blogs on a given day. With so many of us “telling all,” it wasn’t long before medical professionals started sharing their takes from inside medicine.
The concept was new, and it was different. Initially, these postings spawned heated discussions about whether doctors and others in healthcare should or shouldn’t do this. Leading the pack then and now is Dr. Kevin Pho or KevinMD.com, who consistently invites guest bloggers—just as he does—to go where no one has gone before in terms of topics addressed openly, with complete candor. He and fellow bloggers proclaim that there’s a real person, with feelings like you have, underneath that white coat.
Not surprisingly, a number of pioneering female physician bloggers have taken the blogging bull by the horns and made their own medical and editorial history in the process—personal, bold, human.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD is a practicing pediatrician in private practice and on staff at Seattle Children’s. Those are her medical credentials, but about her mamma creds? She has two children—enough said. Dr. Swanson writes in categories about doctoring and healthcare, “If It Were My Child,” Mama Doc philosophies, teens, toddlers, infants and more.
She’s calm and reasonable, standing firm against the storm of information—much of it unreliable—that parents must navigate. Examples:
“See everyone, you can likely understand why I’m saying if it were my child, a turkey raised without antibiotics this year. [It’s] a great choice for now and the future.”
“We have to spend time with those who let us unpeel ourselves without judgment and urge us to take risks, help us take our time, and lend support to shelter whatever we consider dear.”
Fifteen lady physicians adopted pen names including Red Humor, Mammabee, and Genmedmom. Genres include psychiatry resident, neurology, primary care, attending, neurosurgeon, and medical oncologist. Here’s how they describe themselves.
“Mothers in Medicine is a group blog by physician mothers, writing about the unique challenges and joys of tending to two distinct patient populations, both of whom can be quite demanding. We are on call every. single. day.”
If you’ve ever wondered about “A Day in the Life of a Neurosurgeon – SERIOUSLY?” you don’t have to wonder anymore—excerpted here.
- 6:35 a.m. – Wake up 11-year-old son, remind him to take ADD medicine this morning
- 6:40 a.m. – Feed three hungry cats; out the door to work
- 9:00 a.m. – Start next case, two-hour outpatient procedure. Get page about emergency cerebellar stroke patient en route to ICU from sister hospital, need to consult
- 11:40 a.m. – Start case #3 after difficult awake fiberoptic intubation. Play Christmas music to improve mood. Get paged about consult #3—brain mass. Start getting irritable, since this was supposed to be a short day (get home at 6:30, actually see family and get dinner made, start decorating tree we brought home on Saturday). There goes any chance of getting home before 9:30 AGAIN, on a day I’m not on night call.
- 9:00 p.m. – Rest for five minutes to read this blog; am inspired to write this guest post.
Check this out for a close-up of the never-dull daily grind of a public hospital—this one being Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, the largest hospital in the state of Georgia and the public hospital for the city of Atlanta. There Kimberly D. Manning, MD, a specialist in internal medicine, shows us the ropes through her no-holds-barred musings. For instance:
“That reminds me. When I was in residency, I used to pretend as if I was literally strapping on a mask when taking call or starting some particularly challenging rotation. My classmates knew about that little practice and would always get a chuckle when they saw me fastening my imaginary buckles behind my head. ‘GAME FACE ON!’ l'd yell out. ‘BRING IT, BABY!’”
The site is actually a network of popular health bloggers, brought together by Val Jones, MD, founder and CEO. Dr. Jones is board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation, and describes herself as a writer, health journalist and physician educator. She writes many of the posts herself, inspiring introspection and discussion. Look for posts about health policy, book reviews, true stories and more. Example:
“Preserving dignity by prolonging independence, and respecting patient autonomy, are often overlooked goals of good health care. It’s time to think about what our actions—even as small as placing a bib around someone’s neck—are doing to our patients’ morale. Maybe it starts with asking the right questions…Or better yet, just watching and listening.”
No, no, no, family practice physicians are not dinosaurs, asserts Lucy E. Hornstein, MD, who invites you to share. “Until they drag my cold, dead body off into the tar pit, read about my trials and tribulations—and the joys and triumphs, which are what keep me going.”
She’s funny, she uses sometimes “colorful language,” and she cuts to the chase with her truths she calls “Laws of the Dinosaur.” Consider: “The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature takes its course.” “Bad things really do happen to good people.” “Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”
And she takes her job, and her patients, very seriously. “Take home message: Here in the trenches of primary care, ‘quality of life’ doesn’t apply just at the end of life. It’s something we have to help our patients consider every day.”
Read the work of these female physician bloggers, and you won’t view your job the same way again. And if you’re looking for a new one, make sure and check out some of the best healthcare openings here on Monster.