When Doctors are Writers

WED, MAR 11, 2009 (1:27:56)

Elissa Ely and Tess Gerritsen talk about how writing affects their medical practice, and vice versa. They discuss the attention and analysis that the practice of medicine requires, and how the demands of being a doctor differ from the demands of being a writer. Alexander Helper moderates this panel discussion, which explores the questions: Why do some strive to be successful at both writing and doctoring, two demanding professions? What drives doctors to form a unique identity as a writer as well as a doctor? What is added in their medical practice when they write satisfying words? How do doctors ethically balance privacy and story telling? And, is writing a respite from medicine or an extension of it? Alexander Helper is a child psychiatrist with a private practice in the Boston area, and is herself a writer. Her columns appear regularly in Psychiatric Times. Elissa Ely is a psychiatrist who completed her training at the Massachusetts General Hospital. She works with very ill psychiatric patients, and is an essayist for The Boston Globe and other national newspapers, and a commentator for National Public Radio. Tess Gerritsen went to medical school at the University of California, San Francisco and practiced as an internist for five years. While on maternity leave, she began to write fiction, starting with nine romantic suspense novels. In 1996 she published her first medical thriller, Harvest, and she has continued to write award-winning medical thrillers ever since, culminating with her most recent book, Keeping the Dead. This program was organized by fellow physician Sasha Helper.

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