Somebody went to the hoity-toity School of Thermometer Holding!
I remember how hard it was for me to get my pinky perfectly straight.
I’m not sure what has gotten her nursing cap in a wad.
She looks ready to fling that environmentally unfriendly thermometer any second now.
Am I the only one who remembers playing with mercury that came out of a broken thermometer when I was a kid? It was cool…like a tiny liquid bubble.
I certainly didn’t grow a second head or suffer developmental difficulties because of it.
I am, however, pretty sure I just cemented my reputation as a geek…
I’m about ready to tread on sacred ground.
I’m pretty sure the fur will fly and the medical blogosphere will suck me underground, but I think it has to be said.
I certainly am hearing it through the grapevine known as e-mail, so I know I’m not the only one out there who feels like this.
Grand Rounds has changed.
And not for the better.
I’ve been on all sides of Grand Rounds.
I’ve submitted, had submissions rejected, and been asked to modify submissions (one of which I actually did; the other was published as written). I’ve hosted twice: once in March and once last month; both large ‘Rounds with over fifty submissions.
Here’s what I think is going on. I may raise more questions than I answer, or state an issue for which I have no solution.
What I would like to see happen, in addition to the outcry I’m going to hear, is the start of a dialogue regarding where Grand Rounds has been and where it appears to be going.
It has a wonderful history of both literary and technical submissions of merit. It’s the future I am worried about.
The first issue I’d like to address parallels something occuring in medicine outside the blogosphere:
The assimilation of “private practitioners” – bloggers in this case – into “conglomerates” for lack of a better word.
- Maybe “communities” is a better word.
- Communities that flood Grand Rounds with anywhere from 8-10 submissions each week.
(Okay, here comes the naming of a name and before you decide to hit the “next” button or delete Emergiblog from your rolls, hear me out.)
- Now there are some great bloggers there. I know they are great because I read them before Healthline exisited.
- Dr. Enoch Choi, Dr. Heisn Lei, Dr. Paul Auerbach…those are three right off the top of my head. Great bloggers, all, and I look forward to seeing their posts.
But…is Grand Rounds a place to have posts about back stretching? Nutrition? Is it just me?
- When I read Grand Rounds I want anecdotal stories, technical information, literary works and not just something I can pick up anywhere else on the web!
When I last hosted, I had exactly eight submissions out of around 57 from Healthline alone. That is 14% from one source. I included all of them because, well, I hate to deny submission to anyone because I know what it feels like to not be included and I felt an obligation as the host to actually be a host and not an editor.
I was wrong.
One of the submissions came with a previous email attached that basically said, “Hey folks! Let’s get as many of our blogs in there as we can! Submit! Submit!”
Okay, I’m paraphrasing, but you get the idea.
So in this case Grand Rounds is being used as a venue for promotion.
Lest you believe I’m picking on Healthline, let me also throw out the name Dr. Fuhrman. I don’t know any Dr. Fuhrman. I certainly know of the gentleman who helps promote Dr. Fuhrman’s books and does most of the actual blog writing, using old quotes from the books.
- Is this what we need in Grand Rounds? Constant, weekly columns of book promotion?
- Yes, I’ve read the articles and some I found very interesting. But..again, in Grand Rounds?
But…don’t we ALL use the ‘Rounds as a venue for promotion? Don’t we all want that kick in “hits” that comes from being included? Don’t we all use our blogs to promote ourselves or our interests (Lindsey Buckingham, anyone? I’m not immune…).
The answer is yes, we do. Do I have an answer to the dilemma posed above? Maybe…there are three ways to approach this, in my view:
- Let every host act as editor.
- If you don’t think the post belongs in Grand Rounds, then leave it out, repercussions be damned!
- This works because it levels out the playing field so that each individual blogger, even those in specific blogging “communities” have an equal chance of making the cut.
- By doing this you are going to elevate the quality of what comes into Grand Rounds because people will try to write up to the standard and not just send in a post to be sending in a post. If you get my drift.
- Blogging “Communities” – send in a “digest post”!
- If you have many bloggers you would like to see represented, have one of them act as a “mini-host” and send in a post with links to all the submissions from your community for that week.
- The Grand Rounds host only has to deal with one submission instead of 8-10 and your post would act as a “mini-rounds” for your area.
- A Patient Carnival
- Much of what I see coming into Grand Rounds now are posts aimed at patient education or patient information. Medical bloggers don’t need this and a lot of the patients who read Grand Rounds are pretty medically savvy as it is. So…
- Start a patient-blog/information related carnival! Call it “Patient Parade” or “The Carnival of Health Consumers” or “HealthFair: Your Life, Your Carnival”. The readership will be there. And it’s an appropriate forum for many of the posts that Grand Rounds has been showcasing these last few weeks.
The second issue I’d like to address is somewhat related to the first, but not necessarily
This issue would be “The Law of Diminishing Returns”.
Back in the “day”, I could get a cup of coffee and sit for two hours on Tuesday morning and read the entire Grand Rounds offering. In fact, I looked forward to it!
Now I’m lucky if I get through a third of what is written. And having a life (and I know it seems I live on the computer…), if I don’t get it read on Tuesday, chances are I won’t get back to it.
Having a post in Grand Rounds used to mean over 1000 hits for about two days running, now it means, oh, maybe 100- 200 hits over normal. Why is this happening? Well, in the case of Emergiblog, it could be that:
- Depending on the location of the link, not everyone is making it through the entire Grand Rounds or…
- Whereas we used to get an “Instalanche” from Glen Reynolds over at “Instapundit” when he would mention Grand Rounds was up, he rarely does that anymore or…
- Less people feel like clicking on the Emergiblog link (hey, like I said, I’m not immune…if I’m dishing it out, I better be able to take it, too!)
- IMO, including all posts regardless of merit (as decided by the “host” for the week) leads to an unmanagable number of links to read.
- IMO, more posts means less readership, and Grand Rounds becomes a less desirable place to submit because of that. It becomes a viscious circle. People will tend to “pick and choose” instead of reading the entire selection.
Now, the final issue I’d like to address is for the future hosts of Grand Rounds.
Themes are fun. You should have one. They are what make Grand Rounds interesting and creative.
But please, please when you add the posts, do these three things:
- Make the links prominent. Don’t make the reader have to try and figure out what they are linking to.
- Introduce the post by stating which blog it is from and the title of the post. I decided after my last stint at hosting that linking to both the blog AND the post was overkill.
- Give a bit of a synopsis of the post in your introduction or a bit of an opinion on what you thought of it as you read it. Was it new and exciting? Say so! Did you disagree? Say so!
Well, there you have it. I’m going to go hunker in my bunker with my new iPod and await either the onslaught of irate bloggers or the dead silence of a hundred blogs de-linking simultaneously.
But really, I want to know what you think. Am I totally off base or are these issue credible and worthy of discussion?