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Latest Posts

Is Your Doctor Running Late? Check It Out Online

I just read a Wall Street Journal article about a new web-based service called MedWaitTime that allows patients to check if their doctor is running late before heading to the office for their appointment — kind of like you can check to see if your flight is late before heading to the airport.

Brilliant.

Nothing peeves me more than sitting in a doctor’s office reading 4-month-old tattered magazines on topics I care nothing about (saltwater fishing, seriously?), and not because the doctor had an emergency (when is the last time a dermatologist had to run out to save someone), but because the office staff routinely double books. I can’t count the number of times I walked out (my limit is 30 minutes unless I’m in agony) after giving the front office a targeted piece of my mind. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at A Medical Writer's Musings on Medicine, Health Care, and the Writing Life*

Stress Is Like A Tsunami

StressedSo I’ve been thinking a lot about stress lately.

Obviously, it’s because I’m in one of those work/personal periods where the word comes in all capital letters and my dreams seem to be caught on a continual loop of taking-an-exam-in-a-class-I-forgot-to-attend-all-semester (and yes, I’ve been out of school for 26 years now)/realizing-I-just-bought-a-new-house-and-have-to-move/or, finding-that-I-have-10-stories-due-tomorrow (for the newspaper at which I haven’t worked in years).

This latter dream comes closest to my own situation at the moment given that I find myself with just a wee bit too much work for the time allotted (ok, maybe a lot too much work). I’m coping — going to bed later, getting up earlier, reaching out to a couple of writer friends for help) but it nonetheless has my cortisol and norepinephrine hormone production on overtime.

Which brings me to the point of this blog. Your health on stress. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at A Medical Writer's Musings on Medicine, Health Care, and the Writing Life*

What’s The Future Of Social Health Media?

So you’re probably wondering what I’m doing blogging about social networking when this is a blog about health and medicine and medical writing. Well, just consider:

  • Thousands of tweets are sent every hour about health/medical issues. Want a cool way to follow them? Check out Health Tweeder.
  • Thousands of health care professionals, medical organizations and healthcare facilities have Facebook pages.

And I’m sure that’s only the beginning. Those, together with Linked In, are the only social networking sites I currently use so that’s all you get for now. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at A Medical Writer's Musings on Medicine, Health Care, and the Writing Life*

Healthcare Reform: Why I’m Scared

I’m scared because I’m reading articles about people threatening to kill — note that word “kill” — elected officials because of their vote on healthcare reform.

A man was arrested last week for his threats against Nancy Pelosi. Another man was arrested for threatening the two senators from Washington state, saying, “I do pack, and I will not blink when I’m confronted. It’s not a threat, it’s a guarantee.”

One congressman’s campaign received an email that read, “If our tea parties had hoods, we would burn your (expletive) on a cross on the White House front lawn,” while another had bricks thrown through the windows of his brother’s house (which was listed as his official address) and the propane line to his gas grill was cut.

The Associated Press reported that the Senate’s Sargent-At-Arms, who monitors security in both houses, reported 42 incidents in the first three months of 2010 — nearly three times the 15 cases that occurred during the same timeframe in 2009, and all related to healthcare reform. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at A Medical Writer's Musings on Medicine, Health Care, and the Writing Life*

Medical Content Sweatshops: What Are They Smoking?

A member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) freelance listserve recently posted this help-wanted ad from Craig’s List:   

“We’re looking for an experienced analyst/wordsmith to make sense of the health care bill. We will pay a per-project fee for a qualified writer to put some hard work into summarizing the bill in an 8-10 page white paper. We have a strong preference for individuals with a background in Sociology, Policy Research, Health Care, or statistical analysis. Above all, however, you should have some clippings to point us to so we can evaluate your writing chops. As you can see, this report will include a lot of information, but it’s important that you are succinct and clear in your prose. Think of it as a detailed study done by a respected think tank, but  produced for the average consumer.”

The “fee” (and I use the term loosely) for this “detailed study” (?) is $100, which wouldn’t even cover the cost of toner to print out the full bill for reading! (Hence the title of this blog.)

The people behind this posting are not the only ones smoking something, however. Content sweatshop Demand Inc has also been trolling for writers, offering what amounts to a few pennies a word for churning out short articles on topics that a mathematical equation has determined will bring in the most webpage visitors, spiking ad revenue. The sad part is that thousands of my fellow freelancers have taken up the challenge earning, if they’re lucky, about $20 an hour (before taxes and with all expenses out of their own pocket). Most earn far less. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at A Medical Writer's Musings on Medicine and Health Care*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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