Since the beginning of medical school, I have kept an online journal documenting my experiences and reflecting on my own personal journey – from patient to physician. This collection of writing was my weblog, Apollo, M.D. It now represents a sizable body of work, and I have remodeled it into a practical guide for young physicians in this modern age of medicine. In this compendium I offer some wisdom drawn from experience, strategies for surviving the travails of medical training, and hopes and ideas for how personal and system-based medical practice can be improved. In particular, I focus on ways of improving the physician-patient relationship and the adaptation of new technologies to modern medical practice.
I believe in free speech and that there should be no need for anonymity in writing. Accordingly, my identity is apparent in my web journal: these ideas and thoughts are consistent with my personal beliefs and expression in spoken word. Nonetheless, for style purposes and as a self-reminder, I have chosen the pen name “Apollo.” Apollo was a Greek God who was both a bringer of healing and plagues, a builder and a destroyer. Unlike his son Aesculapius after whom the medical field draws its model for humanistic practice, Apollo is a more controversial and less straightforward figure. However, he is, in my opinion, a more accurate representation of the modern physician, for the self-aware physician is conscientious of both the good and the harm he or she can do. It is an error to believe that we, physicians and physicians-in-training, can only do good deeds for our patients; our actions may harm them and ourselves. Accordingly, I believe it is important to be constantly reminded of the double-edged sword we carry with us in the form of our expert medical knowledge and esteemed status: it is a choice we must make to do good by our patients, our communities, and our profession.
The Small Print
Protecting patient privacy is an important component of delivering excellent care. Accordingly, I am striving to retell my experiences and the stories of healing and suffering of my patients without identifying information (i.e. in a HIPAA-compliant manner). While trying to maintain a high level of conscientiousness and carefulness in my approach, I encourage and welcome you to please contact me directly if any of the writing has sufficient information for you to be able to identify your patient or a family member or friend, and I will make appropriate changes as soon as possible.
My writing reflects only my own thoughts and their evolution and maturation over time. They do not reflect the opinions, policies or principles of any institution or society of which I am an employee or member.