I have always thought that doctors are natural writers. The thought was confirmed in a story by Jennifer R Bernstein called Why Doctors Make Natural Writers.Writing is no new landscape for the doctor; the arts and sciences have blended magnificently in the ancient Hellenic world. Today there are many doctor writers you may have come across– Abraham Verghese, Viktor Frankl, Oliver Sacks, Siddhartha Mukherjee, Atul Gawande to name a few. I wasn’t surprised to know that Somerset Maugham was a doctor as well. (We all know that the creator of Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was a doctor too…)
While writers like Maugham do not dabble in writing about medicine and its effects, writers like Atul Gawande turn philosophical as their exposure to the sick and the dying leads them to address life’s larger questions.
Gawande writes: “We’ve been wrong about what our job is in medicine. We think our job is to ensure health and survival. But really it is larger than that. It is to enable well-being. And well-being is about the reasons one wishes to be alive.”
Some doctors write memoirs. Take the bestselling memoir When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. Kalanithi writes about his life journey and the choices he made once he was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. By reading his literary prose readers can attain catharsis.
Good doctors are a blessing and when they share their stories, there is much to gain.