Stories form the backbone of medicine. Every doctor must be a skilled listener, hearing narratives told by patients, teachers, and colleagues. A skilled doctor, though, can tell a story just as well. Communicating a cancer diagnosis and the painful road ahead, or engaging a sick patient to modify the lifestyle choices that are threatening their health, requires skillful oration, insightful angles, and respectful tones. As a doctor, I hear stories every day; stories that I want to share. Many start tragically, have roller-coaster arcs, and end on a note of joy. Some end quickly; others drag on mercilessly. Most enrich my life, like the inspiring story of John, who’s impact I’ve written about in this application. But other stories are heart-wrenching. At home and abroad, I have heard tales of injustice and misery.
I tell these stories, the good and the bad, to my colleagues every day. Some I share in blog posts or magazine articles, or on stage at conferences. Others I withhold, telling no one, afraid of judgment or criticism, hypothetical stones to be thrown at my authentic glass house.
As I develop my abilities as a physician, and reflect on my decade working as a flight paramedic and medical scientist, I see that I have collected a repertoire of human stories from the 72 countries I have visited. These stories, of medical brilliance, medical hubris, and medical tragedy, need to be shared, not only in the halls of hospitals but with the public. Some are directly relevant to everyday life. Others require spotlights to bring attention to injustice and misfortune. Some are just plain weird. I’m starting this blog to develop my abilities to tell these stories and expand my audience of listeners. I’m also applying to engage with other writer-advocates and hear their narratives.
By exploiting my specialized training and invoking my (amateur) journalism skills, I hope to share ideas with people around the globe, becoming better informed myself while empowering them to make healthy choices, write their own stories, and live happily ever after.
In my next post, I’ll briefly outline some of the things I hope to write about. And on Sunday, I’ll post my first story. Thanks for reading, and be well.