Witty Commentary Makes Medical News More Digestible

Colin T. Son


March 18, 2009

Medical news can be a little bit dry at times, which is where the bloggers over at ACP Internist come in. Although it is sponsored by an established medical organization (American College of Physicians), the blog often takes an irreverent approach to medical topics. Regular features like Medical News of the Obvious are often worth a laugh out loud, as was a recent piece about an unusual outbreak of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) among San Diego elephant handlers:

Brave investigators (you have to respect anyone who takes rectal samples from a herd of elephants) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have isolated behaviors associated with developing EA-MRSA (that's my suggested acronym for elephant-acquired MRSA). Among the highest risk activities: bathing the elephant, doing his laundry, and...I'm not making this up...trunk blowing. A helpful footnote to the CDC report explains trunk blowing as, "Caretakers blew air with their unmasked mouths into the calf's trunk to stimulate bottle feeding."

Not that ACP Internist isn't to be taken seriously. The blog provides insights into important medical news as well as commentary on medical practice issues. Ryan DuBosar, Senior Editor of the blog, was kind enough to answer some questions recently about the philosophy behind the blog.

Colin Son: ACP Internist was first a print publication put out by the American College of Physicians. What prompted the launch of the blog?

Ryan DuBosar: We needed a daily outlet to keep pace with medical advances and to deliver them to our audience. We also needed a place to report news that our audience needs to know but that wasn't a feature article or a digest of a journal study. Finally, we needed a place to put news into perspective, and the blog was the place to give our news some context specific to our readers. We entered the blogosphere during the ACP annual meeting in May 2008.

The ACP Internist hosts Grand Rounds
March 17, 2009

Colin Son: What are the goals of the blog?

Ryan DuBosar: In the past year, the blog has come to encompass our perspectives and opinions, our breaking news from conferences, and a way to report news that just doesn't fit in another venue.

We're constantly getting readers from one place or another. The blog might include material that was worth reporting but not right for print, or we might encourage our print readers to head over to the blog for additional content.

Colin Son: How many staff do you have writing for the blog?

Ryan DuBosar: There are 5 of us: Editor Janet Colwell, ACP Hospitalist Editor Jennifer Kearney-Strouse, Senior Staff Writer Jessica Berthold, Staff Writer Stacey Butterfield, and me. We have a variety of backgrounds in journalism and healthcare. Even with 5 of us, it's still tough to keep up a healthy pace. Blog entries are short news articles, but writing short is tougher than just babbling, and the research is the same.

Colin Son: One of my favorite things about the ACP Internist blog is that it adds a little wit to the discussions.

Ryan DuBosar: That's one of our goals when reporting, and the blog allows us to be a little freer. When the study lends itself, we have fun with it. Hopefully the reader is also having fun. And some news is just destined to be skewered, which is why we have Medical News of the Obvious every Monday.

Colin Son: Primary care physicians work in a pretty broad specialty. They're expected to be up to date on disparate medical research topics and practice guidelines. That's a lot of information. How do you sift through all of that information yourselves in order to comment on it?

Ryan DuBosar: Good question, as that's also the biggest challenge for us. We sift through medical news constantly, from dozens of sources, and compile it continuously. Time is precious to our readers, who are busy sifting through dozens of email newsfeeds, blogs, and print editions. We're looking for core news important to any reader.

Colin Son: Is the American College of Physicians planning to further develop its online presence?

Ryan DuBosar: We're going to double the effort with a blog for ACP Hospitalist.

In the meantime, the blog ACP Internist will be hosting Grand Rounds on March 17, 2009. Grand Rounds is the weekly best of the medical blogosphere, featuring posts from physicians, patients, nurses, pharmacists, students, health policy wonks, and others. It offers a good opportunity to sample medical blogs and to get to know the blogger hosts.


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