Doctors Who Blog

April 22, 2009 at 08:53 Leave a comment

When I was in medical school, everyone told us about the sanctity of confidentiality and professionalism. No one ever talked about blogging, to the best of my sieve-like memory, probably because it was a little-known phenomenon at the time.

Today, however, things are different.

To be sure, not many of my friends and colleagues blog. Besides being busy, they probably don’t feel the impetus to write about or publicize their thoughts and activities. Maybe it’s a Singaporean thing. When I blog-surf local sites, I find mostly teenagers talking about their day in school or their BGR angst. After a certain age, many stop blogging altogether, as if it was just so much childish nonsense.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I just wish that there were more folks who’d write about their unexpected, unique, heartfelt moments – things that only they’d seen or heard or felt, and which are therefore special. It’s such a pity to let these gems pass by into obscurity.

Surely doctors, being privy to the suffering of multitudes of people, must experience some emotional impact. Being there, at that time, with that person, during that event. Still. I suppose that it’s a function of our training, or of our upbringing in general, that most of us prefer to relegate emotionally-saturated moments to some deep mental recess, to be filed away and gradually forgotten. 

But… what about the rest of us who have that itch to blog? The problem for us is that the drive for self-expression can collide hard with professional obligations.

It would be wrong of me, for example, to describe the bona fide details of patients, colleagues, bosses or administrators who have pissed me off. Tempting as it is (oh yes, believe me on this one), that would be a betrayal of professional relationships, and could hurt certain individuals.

On a more personal level, I mask the identities of my friends and family. This is largely because there are several docs among them who wouldn’t appreciate being publicized this way. Some have never stopped telling me to “be careful” about what I write, and that my identity can be “tracked”, and I often get the feeling that they would prefer me to stop blogging altogether.

This, by the way, annoys me no end. While I totally agree with the confidentiality concept, I don’t think that I have written anything (so far) that I would not accept responsibility for, even if someone did manage to uncover my identity. Every now and then, I review my posts and take down those which give an inkling of the characters behind the pseudonyms I use. I don’t want to hurt people with my writing. I think it’s perfectly reasonable if someone says they feel uncomfortable about a specific post in which they’re mentioned. I will most probably take it down (unless they’re my sworn enemy, mwahahahaha). But I get quite irritated at constant, generic advice. I KNOW ALREADY LAH. 

I have considered concealing the fact that I am a doctor, but given that a large part of my life revolves around my job, this is simply not a feasible option. I really might as well not blog at all.

I have come across some blogs by fellow healthcare workers that made me blanch. One of these cited the author’s real first name and their ambition to become a “kick-ass” specialist, thereby inviting much behind-the-back ridicule. Another listed the names and described the characters of certain patients of a ward over several entries. Dangerous.

On the other hand, there are many excellent blogs by docs and medical students, that are expressive as well as careful. My favourites are actually the ones that are heavy on non-medicine details. I can only take so much work-related stuff before I switch off. When work becomes the main topic of lunchtime talk, as it frequently does, I tend to zone out until someone prods me. In the same vein, I am delighted when I come across a colleague’s blog that talks about their love of music, or their kids, or travelling, or just plain old something else other than work.

I try to do the same, by writing about perfume and photography and so forth, and it serves its purpose by making me feel understood, recognized, sometimes even exorcized. Heh.

My bottomline is this: for now, I feel the need to blog, as an outlet, in order to maintain my sanity. I know that, as a doctor, with many doctor friends, I need to watch what I say in cyber-public. As a reflection of my personality, most of my posts have nothing to do with my work anyway. I don’t expect universal understanding or approval, but I will do what I can to avoid/undo personal, and probably institutional, affronts. Amen. 

As a conclusion, let me think up some examples of taboo statements. Indulge me. I will probably never get to display such sentiments in public again. Ahem:

  • “I am a Christian female doctor in <this specialty> and I specialize in <so-and-so disorder> and I’m real good and this is my <contact info>. Call me.”
  • “This patient <name> is a stupid *%&# – come two hours late and still behave like king. I wanna <multiple nasty actions> this idiot. $*#%^&!!!”
  • “This patient called <name> is hot! Too bad s/he has <name of disease>.”
  • “<Name of institution> sux! Brainwashed by Gahmen (translation: Singapore government)! Don’t care whether people live or die! All citizens must avoid!”
  • “<Name of colleague> sux! Dunno kill how many patients already!”
  • “<Name of colleague> looks damn hot in <inappropriate article of clothing> and I managed to get their phone number, which is <…>. “
  • “Here’s my nude pix.” Forget that. Sometimes I nauseate myself. 

Have I missed anything out? Included too much? What do you think?

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Entry filed under: The Manx's Take. Tags: , , .

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Welcome to my blog!


My blog-name is Katie but I will not respond if you call me that in real life because it's not my real name. Yes, I do practise virtual-world paranoia. No, I do not enjoy stalkers. But I do enjoy writing and having folks reading said writing, so welcome to my world. It's nice to meet you.

Playing in my head over and over again argh

I'll Have To Say I Love You In A Song (Jim Croce)

Book(s) of the moment

Hogfather (Terry Pratchett)

Books read in 2010 and 2011

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (JK Rowling) - 'cos the movie's coming out!
Frankenstein: Lost Souls (Dean Koontz) - ah, bugger, it's part of a series! Now I hafta find all the books...
Dismantled (Jennifer McMahon) - oh, good one
Tigerlily's Orchids (Ruth Rendell)
Shutter Island (Dennis LeHane) - reminds me too much of work
Holy Fools (Joanne Harris) - it's official: I prefer her scary books
A Series of Unfortunate Events; The Unauthorized Autobiography; The Beatrice Letters (Lemony Snicket)
The Little Friend (Donna Tartt)
The main books - 11 so far - of the Southern Vampire series; the Aurora Teagarden series except for A Fool & His Honey - that makes it 7; Sweet & Deadly (Charlaine Harris)
The Woman in Black (Susan Hill)
Full Dark, No Stars (Stephen King)
Room: A Novel (Emma Donaghue)
Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children (Ransom Riggs)
The Bachman Books (Stephen King)
Men At Arms (Terry Pratchett)
Carpe Jugulum (Terry Pratchett)
The Fifth Elephant (Terry Pratchett)
Beauty (Robin McKinley)
The Sandman, Vol 1 (Neil Gaiman)
The Burden (Agatha Christie) - her crime novels are waaay better
Snuff (Terry Pratchett)

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I started my first photoblog on 3 May, 2009. Each post features one picture, with a little story of how it came about. Do take a look by clicking on: Manx Pictures
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Disclaimers: 1) I cannot help but bitch about work sometimes, but everything here comes under the realm of personal remarks, and nothing here is said in my professional capacity. Nor does anything here reflect the opinion of the institutions that employ me. This is just me shooting off. 2) Most identities have been anonymized, particularly those of folks I know on a personal basis. Same goes for my workplaces. However, commercial and public places and figures remain named. Otherwise some things just wouldn't make sense. 3) Links and sources have been provided where appropriate and possible. They are not meant to challenge anyone's ownership. If this causes any discomfort or offence, please let me know.

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