How the Art of Writing Renewed One Physician’s Energy

“That is my favorite part of the job. Knowing that someone is going to be okay, before anyone else. That moment — it feels like catching a firefly that no one else can see.”

These are the words radiologist and writer Matthew Bucknor, MD, uses to describe the joy in knowing that a patient will recover.  For Dr. Bucknor, the art of writing has been a way to explore his experiences in the field of medicine. His penchant for the craft is highlighted in this piece on Stanford Medical School graduates who utilize and celebrate the arts as tools to “help healers heal themselves.”

Dr. Bucknor, who serves as an assistant professor in the musculoskeletal imaging subspecialty in the UCSF Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, first channeled his energy into writing as he entered medical school. Implicit bias in the healthcare system – and one specific experience in which, while wearing his white coat, he was mistaken for a janitor rather than a third-year medical student – inspired a novel. Marcus, the protagonist of the story, is a young, black medical student in San Francisco who juggles issues of race and identity with the responsibilities of medical school – not unlike Dr. Bucknor’s own experiences.

Dr. Bucknor devoted time to the 400-page novel during short breaks between rounds or after long days training to be a physician. He continues to work on it today and also lends his knowledge of the process to other doctors-turned-authors as a group leader and executive committee member of the Pegasus Physician Writers at Stanford.

When he’s not putting the finishing touches on his novel, Dr. Bucknor is leading the way in noninvasive cancer treatment at UCSF.  His work in the musculoskeletal imaging subspecialty is helping to improve treatments for bone tumors, soft tissue tumors, and joint disease.  His primary research interests include development of oncological applications of MR-guided high intensity focused ultrasound, an exciting new non-invasive approach to destroying tumors, along with novel techniques for evaluating bone/soft tissue tumors, sports injuries, metabolic bone disease and more.

For Dr. Bucknor, writing and medicine go hand in hand.  In fact, writing renewed his energy. Explained Dr. Bucknor: “It was a crucial outlet” to his achieving success in medical school and residency.

Click here to read more about Dr. Bucknor’s appreciation for the art of writing while pursuing a medical degree.

Watch here to learn more about his work at UCSF.

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