To blog or not to blog? As a rheumatologist, you may have pondered this question. Perhaps getting some insight from rheumatologists who already blog and a professional blog writer may help you find the answer.
Obviously, if you devoted time to blogging you would want it to be beneficial. For Paul Sufka, MD, rheumatologist, HealthPartners, St. Paul, Minn., one of the advantages of blogging is having his own voice on the Internet. “You have complete control over what is in your blog, as opposed to physician review sites where you have no control,” he says. “This allows patients to have a chance to learn about you as a physician directly. It also provides a way to express your interests both inside and outside of medicine, and can lead to others with similar interests connecting with you.”
Paul Steinmetz, MBA, principal of Writing Associates, a consulting company that provides writing services to businesses and individuals, Danbury, Conn., says that by having a blog you can help demonstrate your expertise by showing that you are current and knowledgeable. “Nowadays, most people do some research before purchasing a product or hiring an expert,” he says. “As part of their homework, they will visit a potential physician’s website.”
Jonathan S. Hausmann, MD, fellow in pediatric and adult rheumatology, Boston Children’s Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, started a blog in 2014 to bring awareness of and offer education about autoinflammatory diseases to physicians and healthcare providers, as well as to patients who suffer from these conditions.
“I originally set up my blog to teach others, but the one who has learned the most has been me,” says Dr. Hausmann. “I use it as a way to reflect on my practice. I think about my patients’ illnesses, how I cared for them and how I could do better in the future. Reflection is essential to improve learning. Blogging is also making me a better doctor, because I have to learn, understand and explain the illnesses I write about—a fantastic educational experience.”
What to Write?
The best blogs are written by people who are passionate about a particular subject, Dr. Hausmann says. He suggests writing about topics that excite you. For him, this meant the emerging field of autoinflammatory diseases. “We don’t know much about these diseases,” says Dr. Hausmann, who sees a fair number of patients with these conditions. “Knowing that I could generate knowledge that improves our understanding of these diseases really excited me. Helping improve the lives of people with autoinflammatory diseases is really motivating.”