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August 25, 1993

Soundings From BMJColumnists

JAMA. 1993;270(8):999. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03510080105043

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Physicians write for many different reasons. While the impetus for writing is frequently utilitarian, it is also sometimes selfish. Not surprisingly, doctors write to educate, inform, and entertain but, along the way, may discover new meaning to their own lives. Writing offers physicians a mechanism whereby the responsibility and emotional burden of caring for thousands of patients can be reduced and resynthesized into a product of healing for the selfsame doctor.

The average practice of medicine provides inspiration and material enough for countless tales of tragedy, love, heroism, and even miracles. Although such high drama is often limited to rough drafts known as histories and physicals, consultations, and office notes, once in a while, talented physician-authors can turn an examination of the throat into a raging battle of life and death or transform a drunken brute into a maharajah. Soundings From BMJ Columnists, however, suggests perhaps the most common reason