I get asked from time to time why I started blogging, set up a Facebook page, Twitter account and bombard the internet with more information. Let’s face it there are a lot of people out there writing about plenty of things including Neonatology. So the question is, does the world need one more? As you would surmise since I have been doing this for about four months now, I think the answer is yes!
Last night the reasons for writing crystallized in my head at a dinner. A friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in awhile asked me the most common intro question that people start with; a simple “What’s new?” I mentioned the usual things that people talk about, work, life and such and then mentioned the writing. After asking me some probing questions about the topics that I cover (none of which would be of much use to him with older children) he told me that my motivation for doing all this could be summed up with one quote by Winston Churchill as shown above. After digesting my meal and his words, I realized that the motivation is in fact my desire to stimulate myself and others to think about care of the newborn and expand our pool of knowledge.
We live in the age of the internet and with it the limit of ones reach is really limited to the content that they publish in terms of interest to the masses. I have always enjoyed teaching others but as my career has progressed, my time has been spent far more on administrative duties than in the proverbial classroom. I suppose part of my motivation could be described as selfish in that I am wanting to satisfy a desire to teach but if in so doing I can help others, that seems like a forgivable fault. The internet has the potential to be one of the greatest wasters of time for some but there is no doubt that the reach of the “teacher” is multiplied a thousand fold by the vast network of interconnectivity that exists out there. It is the potential to reach others and inspire positive change that has driven me to continue my writing.
Truthfully, I hope that I don’t make any enemies out of this creative endeavour but I do believe that the Churchill quote does apply in the sense that with each post I hope to achieve a few things. The first is to inform you the reader about topics that you may find interesting. The second is to get positive or negative (the enemy so to speak) feedback. If the idea that is being proposed is something that inspires change in another centre and benefits at least one baby out there I have succeeded in the third goal which is to help children beyond the borders of Winnipeg. On the other hand if I am mistaken in my conclusions about a direction for clinical care or a new device to try in our units then some negative feedback helps me reshape my views and perhaps save our babies from something that has been tried and found to be not worth the effort in pursuing.
In all of this I do not mean to come across as arrogant. I have the same training as many of the people who read these posts do and in some cases even less. I do not mean to suggest that I know more than others but I am aware that there are many centres around the world that are simply not academic. They do not have residents or other learners with regularly scheduled rounds. How do they get their information about new directions or products? I suspect they turn to the internet and utilize such blogs as this. I aim to provide as accurate commentary as possible about the things I am passionate about. If a non academic centre can benefit that is wonderful. Furthermore if an academic centre gains something by my contribution to the pool of knowledge all the better. If I in turn learn that I have made an error in my thinking then for my personal development that is more than welcome.
An example of this came just this week on my Facebook page when I commented on the NICE findings from the UK comparing Midwife assisted births to Hospital births by Ob/Gyns. I incorrectly stated that home births with a midwife were found to be equally safe in terms of outcomes. A social media friend in the UK corrected me by indicating that it was home birth OR hospital birth by a midwife. Furthermore, about half of the births occurred in hospital so we cannot conclude that for low risk births all home births with a midwife have equivalence. I seemed to have learned something here that I would not have taken away if I hadn’t put my thoughts out there so I thank my friend in Bristol, UK!
On the other hand, the post on the use of Dextrose Gel to Treat Hypoglycemia has probably helped hundreds of infants by now. I received several requests for more information including our guidelines which I have posted in a page of guidelines on this site. I can only wonder how many pokes have been spared for placing an IV in a well newborn who would have only been hypoglycemic once or twice. How many have avoided a trip to an NICU and instead bonded with their parents in their room? Truly as I write this, it puts a smile on my face!
I am a doctor who also happens to be human and with that has the potential to make mistakes. I put my thoughts out to you in part as a means of testing myself. I am very fortunate to have a colleague who has no hesitancy when it comes to challenging others conclusions. This contrarian viewpoint helps make others including me stronger. As the audience for these posts grows and the feedback (which I have noticed is increasing) comes I seem to take a little bit of extra time formulating my ideas before they are put out there. So in essence this post is a thank you of sorts that goes beyond explaining why I take the time to write. I write to inform, create change beyond our borders when needed and receive feedback on my own beliefs about optimal care to make me a better Neonatologist.
Shouldn’t we all stand up for something, sometime in our lives?
It feels good.