Blogging benefits physician and patients
by Dr. Ed Pullen
My wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer more than a year ago. With little time to make phone calls or write letters, I started blogging to keep our friends and family across the U.S. and Europe updated about Kay’s condition.
To my surprise, I enjoyed writing the posts, and besides being able to articulate my feelings, the creative outlet became therapeutic for me during a difficult time.
Coping with Kay's illness was trying, but once she went into remission, I thankfully no longer had anything to blog about on that topic. I soon discovered I missed writing, however, and with encouragement from my readers and patients, I started "DrPullen.com - A medical blog for the informed patient" in December 2009.
Being a family physician is enjoyable, but sometimes I can get into a rut. Blogging has given me a new set of challenges and a positive outlet for self-expression.
My goal is to be a voice of reason among the self-proclaimed experts from pharmaceutical sales representatives; to cardiac surgeon Dr. Oz who's a general medicine advice machine; to celebrities like Oprah or Jenny McCarthy who outwardly share their opinions on controversial health topics.
Not only am I able to provide readers with a family physician's viewpoint on medical news, my blog actually helps me stay current in my field. By researching ideas, I'm forced to review topics I wouldn't have found a reason to bone up on otherwise.
I've written about everything from the process by which snakes, spiders and scorpions inject venom – to brushing up on the importance of controlling blood pressure and cholesterol in patients with diabetes.
Besides the personal benefits, my patients regularly tell me they enjoy reading my blog. A longtime patient who was an avid runner came in for an exam and told me he had read some posts I'd written on a local athletic star's injuries.
He had no idea I was interested in sports medicine, but after we began to chat, he brought up a persistent knee injury he had failed to mention during previous visits. I was able to suggest ways he could change his training program to help resolve the problem.
Another post about red yeast rice extract prompted some patients to ask me about taking the supplement to lower cholesterol. So despite my hectic schedule, the hour or so I spend writing and maintaining the blog each day is worth it – especially if it helps my patients open up.
Sometimes patients' questions, such as ways to treat pain without addictive prescription drugs, or medical conditions, such as an odd rash or rare tendon injury, are also inspiration for my blog.
I'm a firm believer physicians need to stay relevant with their patients, and most of my patients use some sort of social media. Blogs, Facebook and Twitter may transform and look different in the future – but they won't go away.
My plan is to keep evolving as a blogging doctor, because at 55, I feel too young and energetic to become disengaged with my patients in this world of social media.