My guest column in Stanford School of Medicine’s ‘Scope’

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

John Novack is the Director of Communications at Inspire – the organization that hosts WomenHeart’s online support community of almost 18,000 members living with heart disease. Three years ago, John approached Michelle Brandt. She’s the Director of Digital and Broadcast Media at Stanford University School of Medicine, and also the editor of the school’s medical blog called Scope. John’s suggestion to Michelle: let him help her work what he called “the voices of actual, unvarnished patients” into her publication – normally devoted to coverage of scientific and medical developments around the world. Michelle said yes.

And that’s how Scope’s monthly patient-focused series of unique personal stories was launched. Since I qualified as a contributor (an actual, unvarnished patient myself), John invited me to submit something for consideration – “I’d love a draft column by the end of March!” is how he put it.

I chose Welcome to Your New Country as my Scope submission, an excerpt from a Heart Sisters blog post that seemed to touch a nerve with the patients who read it when I first ran it here.

Thanks to both John and Michelle for helping make this happen, and most of all for being willing to share the lived experience of patients on this award-winning medical blog.

See also:


NOTE FROM CAROLYN:   I wrote much more about what it can feel like to be “deported to the land of the unwell” in my book, “A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease” . You can ask for it at your local bookshop, or order it online (paperback, hardcover or e-book) at Amazon, or order it directly from my publisher, Johns Hopkins University Press (use the JHUP code HTWN to save 20% off the list price).



4 thoughts on “My guest column in Stanford School of Medicine’s ‘Scope’

  1. Excellent, Carolyn! They couldn’t have asked a better person to contribute, I think.

    I got to participate in a med school class last fall by video conference, for a course about patient/doctor relationships, taught by a family physician. He asked three of us to describe to his students a negative and a positive experience we’d had with a doctor; what was bad or good about those experiences; what could have made the bad one better; what made the good ones good; what we learned as patients; and what we’d like the med students to learn.

    After all, clinicians can’t practice without patients, so it really does seem like an obvious thing to include the patient perspective in medical education. And there’s only one way to do that, which is to ask us.

    Hope this trend will continue. We’ll end up with better clinicians &, I hope, happier patients.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kathi – I love that example of you participating with two other patients in that med school class. I’m sure your stories, in your own voices, about what could have made a “bad” experience better will stick in their minds. As Dr. Mike Evans likes to say about doctor-patient communication: “Stories trump data, relationships trump stories, and individuals trump organizations!”


  2. Well done, Carolyn! Your columns are informative and well-presented. The best medical care is provided when there is good communication between doctor and patient.

    Patients do have a role to play. I can appreciate that having the “patient’s point of view” is another aspect to educate frontline caregivers, eg, doctors, about symptoms and efficacy of medical treatments.

    Liked by 1 person

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