3 Physicians Who Make a Living with Words

For many physicians, the world of family practice or hospital employment is a richly rewarding career path. But if, like the famed poet and physician William Carlos Williams, you enjoy putting pen to paper as much as you like practicing medicine, you may not have to choose between the two. Whereas in the early 1900s, Williams scribbled poems on his prescription pad, today a growing number of physicians are building careers that combine medicine and writing. Like these awesome guys.

James Hamblin, M.D.

A senior editor at The Atlantic, Hamblin also writes the health column for the monthly magazine. There, he contributes insightful, entertaining missives on topics like chocolate as a memory food, the health benefits in writing about yourself and the health perils of social media breakups.

He also hosts a regular video series on the site called If Our Bodies Could Talk. Here, Hamblin calls upon his background as both a physician and an improv artist to create videos about the health benefits of going outside, the case for napping at work and how, exactly, women’s reproductive systems work.

Hamblin’s work has been featured on, or covered by, NPR, BBC, MSNBC, New York, The New York Times and a slew of other media, and TIME named @jameshamblin among the 140 people to follow on Twitter in 2014. Read more about Hamblin on his website, and in this compelling interview in Capital New York.

Sanjay Gupta, M.D.

Sanjay Gupta is a household name due to his superb work as an Emmy-award winning chief medical correspondent for CNN. A practicing neurosurgeon, Gupta also finds time to report and health and medical news for Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien, Anderson Cooper 360, various CNN documentaries and, of course, the weekend medical affairs program Sanjay Gupta, M.D. You may have also read his column in TIME magazine, or his New York Times bestsellers, Chasing Life and Cheating Death.

When Japan founds itself in the aftermath of a tsunami and earthquake in 2011, Gupta was there on the scene, giving Americans a firsthand glimpse into the severity of the impact on human lives. He also reported on Haiti’s devastating earthquake in 2010 and was awarded two Emmys for his work. He was there at Ground Zero in 2001, after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers in 2001.

In addition to his media work, Gupta works at the Emory University School of Medicine as a member of the staff and faculty. Read more about Gupta on his CNN profile page and blog. Read his tweets via @drsanjaygupta

Kevin Pho, M.D.

If you’re drawn to blogging and social media, you’ll be impressed with the niche Kevin Pho, M.D., has created for himself. His popular website, KevinMD.com now boasts over 1,500 contributing authors, including front-line primary care doctors, surgeons, specialist physicians, nurses, medical students, policy experts and patients.

The media has taken notice. The Wall Street Journal says KevinMD.com is, “A punchy, prolific blog that chronicles America’s often dysfunctional health care system through the prism of a primary care provider,” and the New York Times called it, “A highly coveted publishing place for doctors and patients.” CNN has named @KevinMD as one of its five recommended health care Twitter feeds.

Along with his media work, Pho is a practicing, board-certified internal medicine physician, national media commentator and an acclaimed keynote speaker. He is co-author of the book Establishing, Managing, and Protecting Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Guide for Physicians and Medical Practices. Read more about Pho on his profile page at KevinMD.com.

So, is the pen mightier than the stethoscope? The good news is: you don’t have to choose. If you’re equally interested in medicine and writing, there’s never been a better time to pursue a career that involves both.