Blogging is simply writing and sharing your writing on the web. As medical professionals, we’re all writers to an extent. For some, this was initially limited to school assignments, and then the MCAT writing section, followed by a dizzying array of primary and secondary med school and residency application essays. Others enjoy writing and, at some point, have done it when it’s not actually required – perhaps kept a personal journal, entered a medical essay competition, or written an editorial for a scientific publication. But many physicians in this group frequently (or permanently) let writing fall to the wayside when our jobs get busy or training gets tough.
Blogging Will Increase Your Professional Reach
Since being popularized in the late 1990s by online journaling sites like LiveJournal and Xanga, blogging has steadily increased over time. Subsequently, it’s become straightforward to get your own URL, buy hosting, and develop your own website. This means that contemporary blogging allows us to own and market our own work.
Turning a blog into a true business is a tangible goal for almost any blogger. Consider Kevin Pho, who started KevinMD when he got a great response from patients after writing online about the Vioxx recall. His audience spans the medical and non-medical communities and receives an estimated >1 million visits every month. Reaching patients doesn’t require a clinic or a hospital anymore.
Many physician blogs target medical professional audiences, which is really the focus of this post. By-physician, for-physician blogs are an excellent format for doctors to establish a community of like-minded practitioners, spread a point of view to colleagues, or provide an informational yet entertaining resource to others in their field. Many write on topics beyond medicine, as well, supporting readers in striking a balance in life – consider Millionaire Doc and The Happy Philosopher.
Why Start a Physician Blog?
With more than 400 million blogs scattered across the internet, it’s easy to dismiss starting your own blog. Uncertainly about how readers will find your blog and fear of having nothing substantial to add to what already exists are common reasons to stick to being a reader rather than a blogger.
But let me assure you that, as a highly-educated individual with expertise in medicine and healthcare, you definitely have something substantial to add. And this is knowing none of the other plentiful things about your life and career that make your perspective extremely interesting. Here are five reasons you should start your own blog.
1.Our field changes rapidly, and it’s tough to keep up
There’s so much to stay up-to-date with in medicine. New information and developments that are relevant to our professional lives are not limited to:
- Scientific findings
- Medical recommendations and guidelines
- Regulations and rules
- Medications, devices, and health trends
- Changes in patient expectations
Traditional textbooks in some sub-fields of medicine can no longer even keep up. More and more, the dissemination of information is via the Internet. Our field is embracing this, to a large extent. Your participation as a blog writer can contribute to others’ ability to keep abreast of relevant topics.
2.You can assist your peers in maintaining career satisfaction
Bloggers tend to share what makes them happy. Or they write about problems and frustrations, then present ideas and solutions to address them. You need to be passionate about whatever it is that you’re writing about. Otherwise, you’ll lose interest quickly or run out of ideas. By writing on topics that we feel strongly about, we enhance the passions in others.
For MDs writing to MDs or other medical professionals, this can mean simply publishing content that your reader relates to on some level. To understand our own problems from someone else’s perspective is eye-opening. And to find out that other people are having similar experiences to what we’re dealing with can give us opportunities to help each other out. Isn’t it in our blood to help each other out?
3.Society has accepted the web as valid a source of information
We all have patients who look up their symptoms online and then come into our office telling us their presumed diagnosis and what they need for it. Sometimes they’re out in left field and verging on hypochondriacal, but sometimes they’re accurate. When I get the accurate ones, it makes me smile about the abundance of information we have freely available to us.
In a similar vein, when I need information, I turn to Google and frequently end up on someone’s blog. I often find exactly what I need. Through the collective power of millions of well-meaning people and businesses, the web ends up accurate and helpful more often than incorrect and useless.
In order to push past a traditional, ho-hum career in medicine, doctors can play a part in contributing to this wealth of searchable knowledge.
4.Blogging assists you in establishing expertise on a topic
Unless you’re already an expert on the topic of every post you write, research and learning will be a component of blogging. In fact, it will motivate you to learn and understand topics that interest you or that you need to know about to complete an article. With time, blogging consistently within a niche will give you credibility.
This is somewhat analogous to “see one, do one, teach one” in medical training. We’re pushed to try a procedure soon after seeing it done. Then we’re asked to teach it to someone else as the ultimate test of our understanding. As a blogger, you’re able to write about topics that you recently learned about for personal reasons or because you needed to know the answer for your work. Blogging will compel you to understand those topics beyond the minimum you need for yourself and, instead, achieve a solid grasp that will allow you to share the information with your audience.
Being known for proficiency on a particular matter is great for self-assurance, too. I can’t be the only with imposter syndrome – right? Sure, some physicians are egotistical and narcissistic, but many of us could use a confidence boost or, at the very least, a way to build connections with readers who can relate to us and who value our thoughts.
5.Writing is an act of personal exploration and reflection
How often do you sit down and think about what is propelling you through your professional life? I don’t mean the I-should-really-get-more-sleep or the good-thing-I-get-a-paycheck-for-the-crap-I-put-up-with type of thoughts. I mean insightful, deep thoughts. Reflecting on our work frequently and then acting on that reflection basically guarantees that our careers will not stagnate or burn us out. It only takes a quick gander around the blogosphere to come across writers who share their professional goals, their personal aspirations, their mistakes, their losses, and their results.
We all have a tendency to take things one day at a time when it comes to challenges at work. This can be great in certain situations, and prevents us from getting overwhelmed. This by itself is not an adequate response to stress, though. Some sort of grander approach is needed to improve things for the long-term. Writing and sharing may be a great technique for you.
Be in touch if this prompts you to start a blog! I can help answer questions that come up. If you already have a blog, what motivates you to write?