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IdeaLab: ‘Why I Blog’


Rob Lamberts, MD, explains why he keeps an online journal, or “blog,” and whether you should, too.

I Web log, or blog, for short. For the uninitiated, this means I keep a publicly accessible journal/column/soapbox on the Internet. I blog (mostly) on medical subjects - making me a medical blogger - on a Web site called distractible.org.

I upload, or post, my writings regularly to this Web site. People can read my posts - people anywhere in the world. My blog gets anywhere from 200 to 600 visitors per day. Some blogs get thousands.

As a physician who’s as busy as you are, why would I take time to blog?

  • I enjoy writing. Until blogging, I hadn’t had much opportunity to write. Now I can write serious pieces on the dysfunctional state of our healthcare system, alongside silly pieces about people being magnetized by MRI scanners. I don’t have to submit my entries to an editor (although sometimes that may be of benefit), and I don’t have deadline anxiety. I write about whatever I want, whenever I want.

  • I like the attention. I never truly outgrew being a class clown, and so blogging seems so natural. What a heady feeling, knowing that many people are reading what I write and that they’re enjoying it. How do I know this? Because people can comment on my posts. In fact, interaction between the author and readers via the comment section of a blog sometimes produces the most creative content. And, it’s an honor to see your writing cited in other blogs, or even in “traditional” media. (I was cited in The New York Times once. How cool is that?)

  • I enjoy the connection. Medical bloggers have become a bona fide community. I now know people I would never have met in real life, including physicians from all over the world. I have exchanged ideas with people of different races, religions, and belief systems - people far beyond the confines of my suburban WASP world. I am truly grateful for this.

  • I feel a sense of responsibility. I represent an under-represented group: primary-care physicians in private practice. In general, physicians in my situation are too busy to get involved, and so they have little voice in today’s world. Any time spent away from seeing patients is money lost. This means that those with the greatest need for a voice, such as physicians, are those least able to get their voice heard. As a blogger, I do what I can to articulate just what havoc the current problems in healthcare are wreaking on us primary-care physicians. The simple fact that a national magazine has asked me to write this article is witness to the power of that voice.

Is blogging for you? Maybe. Do you have reasonable writing abilities? You’ll need them to get (and keep) a regular group of readers. Do you have enough free time?

You must, in order to keep your blog fresh enough to keep people interested. If you can answer “yes” to these two questions, then I say go for it.

If not, don’t despair. Be a blog reader. You can easily find worthwhile medical blogs online (insert shameless plug for distractible.org here). A wide array of specialties, perspectives, and styles makes the medical blogging world an all-you-can-eat buffet for the mind. Whatever your interests or pet peeves, you’ll surely find a like-minded blogger. We debate about homeopathy. We rant about drug companies. We moan about the MRSA “crisis.” We cry about falling reimbursement. We demonize insurance companies. If you have thought it, someone has probably blogged about it.

My only warning: It’s very easy to over-indulge at buffets. Are you OK with becoming obsessed? Blogging has a tendency to do that. But someone has probably already blogged about that, too.

Robert Lamberts is a primary-care physician in private practice in Augusta, Ga. His comments are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Physicians Practice.

This article originally appeared in the February 2008 issue of Physicians Practice.

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