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The Healing Power of Words: Why Doctors Should Embrace Writing as a Creative Outlet

Dana Corriel, MD prescribes a dose of creativity and explains why doctors should wield the pen as a powerful instrument for stress relief, empathy, and professional growth.

February 5, 2024

Let’s face it, folks: The medical profession is demanding and stressful.

Because of that, it often leaves little room for personal pursuits outside of the realm of medicine.

However, it is precisely in the midst of chaos that doctors should, in my opinion of course, consider taking up writing as both a therapeutic, creative, AND personal-development outlet.

Beyond the realms of prescriptions and medical records, the act of putting pen to paper (or, let’s be real here, fingers to keyboard) can offer a myriad of benefits for physicians, both personally and professionally.

Here are just a few.

 

  1. Stress Relief and Emotional Expression:

Doctors navigate through high-stakes situations daily, dealing with life and death decisions and managing the emotions of patients and their families. Writing provides a constructive outlet for doctors to process and express their own emotions.

It serves as a form of stress relief, allowing them to unwind and decompress after intense days in the clinic or operating room. Whether through journaling, poetry, or storytelling, writing can be a cathartic release that fosters emotional well-being.

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  1. Enhancing Communication Skills:

Effective communication is the bedrock of any successful medical practice.

Doctors who engage in writing outside their professional scope can hone their communication skills, translating complex medical concepts into more accessible language.

This skill is not only beneficial for interacting with patients but also for contributing to medical literature, making their research and insights more widely understandable and impactful.

 

  1. Fostering Empathy:

Writing, especially fiction and creative nonfiction, allows doctors to inhabit different perspectives and walk in the shoes of diverse characters.

This imaginative exercise can deepen their sense of empathy, a crucial attribute in a profession that requires understanding the pain and challenges faced by patients.

By delving into the lives of fictional characters, doctors can refine their ability to connect with patients on a more profound level.

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  1. Improving Observation Skills:

Good writing demands keen observation, attention to detail, and an understanding of human behavior.

These are skills that directly translate to a doctor’s ability to diagnose and treat patients.

Engaging in descriptive writing or narrative medicine prompts doctors to pay closer attention to the nuances of their surroundings and the people they encounter, ultimately improving their clinical observation skills.

 

  1. Promoting Reflective Practice:

Reflection is an integral aspect of professional development in medicine. Doctors who write, whether in the form of reflective essays or personal narratives, can deepen their understanding of their own practice.

This self-awareness facilitates continuous learning, enabling physicians to identify areas of improvement and refine their approaches to patient care.

I remember when I wrote my very first article. I was so proud of it, even though, in hindsight, it wasn’t my best work.

Through writing, I was able to connect with an audience, at large, who understood me through my words. Self-expression allowed people who I never even met to really bond with me, through the experiences shared.

It felt a bit vulnerable, but also so very freeing at the same time.

 

  1. Contributing to Medical Literature:

Doctors are at the forefront of medical knowledge, and their unique experiences and insights can enrich the existing body of literature.

Engaging in scientific or medical writing allows them to contribute to advancements in their field, share valuable case studies, and disseminate best practices.

Writing for medical journals not only benefits the broader medical community but also enhances the doctor’s professional reputation.

It felt a bit vulnerable, but also so very freeing at the same time. 

 

  1. Encouraging a Healthy Work-Life Balance:

The demands of a medical career can often lead to burnout and a neglect of personal well-being.

Writing offers doctors an avenue to step away from the rigors of their profession and engage in a fulfilling and personal pursuit.

By incorporating writing into their routine, doctors can strike a healthier work-life balance, fostering creativity and rejuvenating their passion for medicine.

 

I get that the world of medicine is demanding. I really do.

I lived in that world, working day in and day out, to heal others, and to better myself as a clinician.

In a field where time is such a precious commodity, encouraging doctors to embrace writing does seem like a luxury.

However, the benefits extend so well beyond personal satisfaction, as I hope I’ve outlined above.

Engaging in writing helps us reach into the realms of improved mental health, enhance our communication skills, and enjoy a more profound connection with patients.

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By recognizing the therapeutic potential of writing, doctors can not only enrich their own lives, but also contribute to the broader medical community, creating a positive ripple effect that extends far beyond the confines of the clinic or hospital.

I’m putting my words where my mouth is (well, rather my keyboard, as I type out these words). I’m curating a conference that’s virtual, on this very topic, so that any one of you can enjoy learning about it from the comfort of your own home (or wherever you choose to soak up virtual info).

Not only that, but the lineup is guaranteed to be of quality, because we’ve brought in chairs to help ensure of it.

Check out our upcoming writing conference, curated for the healthcare professional interested in writing:

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. For more information, or to submit your own opinion, please see our submission guidelines or email opmed@doximity.com. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Find out what we’re looking for here and submit your writing, or send us a pitch.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Submit your own article now here.

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