Crafting a Medical Thriller Even When Your Medical Specialty isn’t Considered ‘Thrilling’

Board-certified developmental-behavioral pediatrician and author of multiple medical thrillers Joel Shulkin, MD teaches about crafting a knockout medical thriller.


(This lecture is part of our Writers Conference For Healthcare Professionals)

Target audience: medical providers interested in writing medical thriller or suspense novels from any specialty or subspecialty, but especially those who do not work in surgical or emergency medicine fields.

The list of medical thriller books is flooded with books portraying surgeons and ER staff and, consequently, scenes in the operating or emergency room. Often this is because when one thinks of medical thrills, they think of life-or-death situations and invasive procedures. After all, what could be scarier to someone not in the medical field than someone invading their body? But some pretty interesting things can happen outside of the OR and ER, and physicians from other specialities are just as likely to be thrust into gripping situations.

Learning objectives:

  1. To understand what defines a medical thriller and what elements needs to be present.
  2. To describe the types of situations in which a physician who does not work in the OR or ER might be placed that could lead to a fascinating story.
  3. To identify scenes outside of the OR and ER that any physician might be in a thriller.
  4. To identify thriller subgenera that overlap with medical thriller where a sub specialist might fit.
  5. To list examples of recent thriller novels that go beyond the OR and ER.
  6. To discuss how to focus on character to drive the story.

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Joel Shulkin, MD, MPH

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Joel Shulkin, MD, MPH


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