Blogs are great ways to communicate. It’s like having a journal that everyone else can read. You can use it to talk about yourself or whatever it is that’s on your mind. You can also use it to inform the public about certain things. For many people, self expression is a part of who we are. We are social beings and it’s not just enough for us to know who we are, but it’s important that we show others who we are as well. We love to share our success and our stories. For some of us, there’s nothing more thrilling than telling the world how you came out on top after the biggest struggle of your life. For others, it’s all about sharing thoughts and ideas.
I keep repeating this, but people forget that doctors are human too. Likewise, they also have struggles, beliefs, thoughts, and things they want to express. So, just like everyone else, doctors too have blogs. This blog can be a personal one that is only shared with family and loved ones, or one made in the name of science and medicine that also has humanitarian aspects. A doctor may use his or her blog to educate patients about certain conditions and what to do if certain issues occur. Lots of doctors also like to use their blogs to express what it’s like being a doctor. The struggle, joy, and everything in between that comes with being a physician. Doctors go through a lot from their med school days, to being residents, to being attendings and eventually to becoming doctors who have their own practice. A lot of effort goes into that and with that effort there are plenty of emotions involved as well. It’s only natural to want to share all of that.
One of the things doctors may utilize blogs for is to be informative and educational. If you’re an endocrinologist, you could have a blog that is mostly dedicated to diabetes, for instance. One of your posts could be on the symptoms that may make you suspect that you have diabetes. These are things like polyuria, polydipsia, and fatigue. The following week you could post about the warning signs of low blood glucose levels which can happen if your diabetes is overtreated or if you’re not eating enough relative to the medication you’re receiving. Warning signs would be things like sweating and tachycardia.
If you’re a family doctor or a pediatrician, there is a lot of material to be covered. Sometimes people visit their family doctor just to ask a simple question. Perhaps the issue is an educational one where people need to be taught more about their health, but it could also be something that is somewhat uncommon. Posting about kids’ health as a pediatrician will make parents really appreciate you. Parents can get too worried especially if it’s their first child and they’re relatively inexperienced. Information they find on your blog that reassures them could set their mind at ease and allow them to raise their child better without too much panicking or worrying.
Naturally, there are plenty of medical websites on the internet. At the very least, you have two credible sources such as the CDC and the WHO who have their own websites. A local doctor, however, is closer to his or her people. A local physician knows the common illnesses in their population and it’s natural that a doctor in Florida will receive certain common questions that are different from those a doctor in Alaska receives. So a local doctor’s blog will be more oriented to the specific needs of that population.
Another handy use of blogs is to use them to interact with patients. Like we were saying, a local doctor will be talking and blogging with his local population and patients in mind. So not only will he or she be able to address their needs through one-way communication, but they’ll also be able to direct questions to him or her. For example, a doctor living in a state or city where it gets really hot in the summer will post blogs about things like dealing with heat stroke and the immediate management to be done before taking the patient to the hospital. It’s very likely that this is something locals of the area have faced before, and if they faced an issue that’s not present in the blog post, they can simply post a question in the comments section.
This won’t just help them when the doctor replies, but it’ll also help others in the same region who probably had the same question. Basically, one person asks a question that so many other have as well. It’s like in class when a lot of students have the same issue with the topic; they could either all go to the teacher or professor after class, or one of them can raise his or her hand in the middle of class and ask the question. By answering the student’s question, the professor will have also answered and cleared things up for several other students. This makes blogs an interactive method of communication between the community and the doctor rather than one way traffic where the doctor is talking and people are listening without being able to inquire about things that concern them. This could be an alternative for doctors who keep getting the same questions from different patients via email.
Finally, the most humane use of blogs is for doctors to vent and talk about their experience. Being a doctor isn’t easy and it takes so much effort, patient, and skill. When you get good news besides fist bumping the air and screaming “YES,” the first thing you do is look for someone dear to you to share that news with. Sometimes the accomplishment is so good that you feel like sharing it with the world, especially if there was a struggle involved. Blogs are one way this can be done. Another thing to express would be fatigue and grief. It can be tough to lose patients and it’s necessary to have an outlet to express that grief. By reflecting on your experience you learn from it and you also see that there are good things to enjoy and look forward to.
It’s also important for doctors to express what they go through as it can help them prevent physician's burnout and even suicide. If you’re constantly overworked and don’t have time to sleep, then the truth is your mental state isn’t at its healthiest. Expressing your emotions allows you to see them differently and deal with them better. It’s very therapeutic to put your thoughts on paper, or in this case a computer screen.
Blogs can also be a source of guidance for junior doctors. You could talk about your experience and how you got through different phases of your career. Give advice to med students and residents. You could give tips on how to interview for a job as well. You can also give personal advice such as how to balance work life with personal life and be able to find time for your loved ones.
Blogging has so many benefits and physician blogging is no different. What separates people from other creatures is language and personally, I believe written language is the finest form of communication, even a form of art. Through words you can paint a picture, express an emotion, or tell a story. Despite being flooded with work and not having time to sleep, doctors have so many built up emotions that need to be released. Writing these emotions in a blog is one of the healthiest ways to do that. Just be careful to not breach patient confidentiality by revealing any personal information through your stories.
- Blogs can be informational, where you share information with your patients regarding symptoms or new research.
- You may choose to share your blog with only your family and loved ones, depending on its content.
- Blogs can also be used as a therapeutic journal for doctors, where they can vent and express their emotions.