Doctors Are Parents, Too

A new blog offers the latest expert medical advice, plus a peek behind the scenes.

By Genevieve J. Long, PhD  May 2, 2013

Breast-feeding at work. Ear infections. How a mom who happens to be a pediatrician balances work and family. All these are topics on the Healthy Families blog from OHSU Doernbecher. Since mid-2012, the blog has offered advice from pediatric health professionals alongside personal stories by patient families, nurses, and doctors.  

If you’ve wondered if doctors are like other people, the blog shows that the answer is yes—and that pediatricians are as concerned about kids’ health and safety as any parent. “In medicine, we’ve become almost paranoid about privacy, which is good—but it’s taken away some of the humanity and sense of community,” says Nathan Selden, Doernbecher’s head of pediatric neurosurgery. “The blog reconnects us to the community in a personal way.”

It also helps families get to know the hospital before they ever need help. “It’s rare for parents in the community to meet Doernbecher’s specialists unless they have a child with an unusual diagnosis,” Dr. Selden says. “The blog allows them to get comfortable with what is available to families here.”

In addition to demystifying doctors, Healthy Families provides reliable, timely medical information. For example, October brings a post on Halloween safety, and flu shots are a hot topic in early winter. “Although it’s informal, the blog provides parents with a source of accurate medical information,” says Dr. Selden. “There’s so much misleading information on the Internet about medicine. Writing the blog helps us correct some of that.” 

When you read a Healthy Families post, it comes directly from a pediatric health expert. “We try not to edit too much,” says OHSU social media manager Brycie Jones. “We want their voices to come through.” Doctors, nurses, and pediatric residents take turns writing the posts (including one explaining what a “pediatric resident” is). 

Readers can comment directly on the Doernbecher blog, and the blog authors often respond to questions posted there. Readers can also respond on the hospital’s Facebook page. “When there’s a new Healthy Families post, people who like Doernbecher on Facebook get it in their feeds,” Jones says. A recent post on a rock band made up of former OHSU medical students drew 130 “likes” and the suggestion that the band play in the Doernbecher lobby. 

Patients and families, including the young designers of the Nike/Doernbecher Freestyle sneakers, also tell their stories on the blog. “We’ve shared some very personal stories about the care of children,” says Dr. Selden. “Every time I’ve asked a family whether they were willing to share, they’ve said yes. It’s amazing how generous people are. Their experiences can help and encourage other families.” 

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