Learning by Write

Family physician writers were invited to explain, “Why I write.”

The practice of medicine is the management of meaning. The job of the physician—as master of diagnosis and therapy—engages us every day in observing and making sense out of what our patients show us and tell us. Our roles, as teacher, counselor, and coach, also call upon us to deliver information in ways that can help our patients understand what they need, change what they can, and cope with all the rest. We confront fear, manage uncertainty, and explain the unknown…. Read more.


“If illness is a narrative, then medicine is about listening and telling the stories we are privileged to hear.”

“Once written down, an idea can endure in spite of itself.”

“Practicing skills of observation changes our powers of perception.”

“Paying attention to the patient’s words and listening for their meaning is part of the power and the joy of medicine.”

“Maybe the clinical art of listening for heart murmurs has faded with the advent of echocardiography, but I am sure that no imaging technology will replace the art of hearing a patient’s pain.”

“Family physicians, particularly, have the privilege of hearing the whole story. If we listen closely, we can hear the stories that make us human.”

“As physicians, we have the privilege—sometimes the duty—to witness the suffering and courage around us.”

“Writing—like caring—is a signature skill of humanity.”

Read the essay.

See the other essays on “Why I write.”

Please comment and share.

Copyright © 20013 Society of Teachers of Family Medicine. Originally published in: Phillips WR. Learning by write. Family Medicine 2013;45(1):48-49.

This entry was posted in Essays and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Please leave a reply.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.