Can an otolaryngologist write a best-selling book? Absolutely. Parent Nation, the latest book by Dana Suskind, MD, is billed as an instant New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestseller. After Kilimanjaro, a novel by Gayle Woodson, MD, is an American Fiction Award winner.
Explore This IssueJuly 2022
Here, we spoke to six otolaryngologists who shared their paths to publication as well as tips and encouragement for would-be authors.
Author, A Fullness of Uncertain Significance: Stories of Surgery, Clarity, & Grace
Professor, Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences, Medical College of Wisconsin
Retired head and neck surgeon
“The process of haphazardly pouring words onto a page—and then sorting through them to make some sense of things—has enriched my life,” Dr. Campbell wrote in introduction to his book, A Fullness of Uncertain Significance.
Dr. Campbell began writing more than three decades ago, shortly after starting his medical practice. “I was 32 years old, and all of a sudden I had these patients who were my responsibility,” he said. “I didn’t really have anybody to talk to—I was the only one at my institution doing what I do—so I’d go home and write about it.”
The process of writing helped him see connections and “made me a better doctor,” he said. He seized opportunities to integrate medicine and writing, authoring newsletters, blog posts, essays, poetry, and fiction in publications ranging from the Journal of Clinical Oncology and JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery to The Examined Life: A Literary Journal of the Carver College of Medicine and Creative Wisconsin.
Fascinated by the power of storytelling, Dr. Campbell earned a Certification of Professional Achievement in Narrative Medicine from Columbia University in 2019. He now includes narrative medicine techniques when he teaches medical students, encouraging them to create written reflections on clinical encounters. “Writing helps them digest and understand not only what that experience meant to the patient, but what it meant to them,” he says.
Read more: www.BruceCampbellMD.com
Author, Parent Nation: Unlocking Every Child’s Potential, Fulfilling Society’s Promise and Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain
Director, University of Chicago Medicine Pediatric Hearing Loss and Cochlear Implant program
Founder and co-director, TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health
As a pediatric otolaryngologist specializing in cochlear implantation, Dr. Suskind was bothered by “huge disparities in outcomes.” She started delving into the root causes of those disparities and learned that human conversation is incredibly important for brain development. Convinced that child health might improve dramatically if parents, caregivers, and others understood exactly how to build children’s brains via conversation and interaction, Dr. Suskind published her first book, Thirty Million Words, in 2015.