Welcome Aboard!

Thanks for agreeing to write for Angels in Medicine! This volunteer site is made possible by the generous work of its writers and the individuals and organizations we highlight.

How to Write for Angels in Medicine

The focus of each article is on the doctor, nurse, or healthcare practitioner being featured, highlighting their humanitarian work. As much as you might like to emphasize a new drug, diagnostic, computer system, board member, philanthropist, or what have you, the “Angels” of this site are the heroes who go above and beyond the usual healthcare to provide for those who go without care: the poor (whether in the US or globally), refugees, disaster victims, and the like.

The articles on Angels are meant for the general public, rather than a technical or professional audience. References are not needed, although you can include a list of related articles that the reader might enjoy.

You can model your article on the style seen in The New Yorker, the Sunday New York Times Magazine, or The Atlantic, or the articles from the Angels site I list below. Imagine you’re telling a friend about this amazing person you know!

Record the Interview

The article is typically based on an interview with the highlighted person, and sometimes one other on the team. I strongly suggest recording the interview — all the online and phone apps (Zoom, What’sApp, Skype) include a record feature. If you meet the subject in person, use the record app on your phone.

Before interviewing your subject, test things out first with a friend to make sure your equipment is working, and that the recording levels are good enough when you play it back. There are inexpensive transcription services out there that might help with the recorded interview, if needed, although you might simply listen to the recording and jot down a the quotes and facts you need. One free online service I tried recently is Riverside.

What to Write About

Write about what the person or organization is doing now, whether it’s going on humanitarian missions, working locally at a free clinic, building a health care system, or some other way they are reaching people, as well as how they got there. What inspired them to do this kind of work?

I like to include personal stories to help visualize the work, rather than (or in addition to) “Our 3 volunteer physicians, six RNs, and assorted volunteers treated 148 patients on our three day mission…” A few of those patients will stand out, whether the most rewarding result, the most challenging, the most heart-breaking. Bringing out those stories adds that personal element that makes an article memorable.

It’s also useful to include a short bio of the person, as well as a brief history of the organization or mission, and describing the need this work fills.

Photos also help to tell the story, so remember to ask for them.

Interview Questions

Here are some suggestions for questions you can ask during the interview (in no special order):

  • Why is your work needed?
  • Who is being helped?
  • How did your medical journey lead to this work? How did you begin?
  • Do you have an inspiring mentor, or some patient that inspired you to take this direction?
  • What are the challenges in helping and reaching this group?
  • Who was the most memorable patient? (good way to get a story)
  • Have their been any heart-breaking patients? Anything you wish you could have done better? (more stories)
  • Do you see things getting better or worse for the people you serve?
  • How do you see your work (or organization) changing over the next few years?
  • How has this affected your relationships? (Sometimes working overseas, or even working way too many hours in a local clinic, can strain a relationship.)

I’m sure you’ll come up with many interesting areas to explore, and even more while you’re talking. You can always say, “That’s interesting, tell me more about it.”

You can usually follow up with the person to get more information or ask other questions you thought of later. Remember, the people you are interviewing like to help!

One thing I watch out for is talking too much! Sometimes the conversation reminds me of something, and I start to share it… and then realize 10 minutes have gone by without the person getting a chance to speak. Establishing a connection is valuable, but remember to allow the person to share their story.

Inspiring Books and Articles

Here are a few books I find inspirational, both for the content and the way they are written. I love their style, and I use them as inspiration for my writing and for the site:

Tracy Kidder wrote a fantastic book about the medical humanitarian Paul Farmer, MD, (founder of Partners in Health), called Mountains Beyond Mountains. He published another terrific book recently, Rough Sleepers, about a doctor who ran the homeless healthcare service at Mass General for 40 or so years. https://www.tracykidder.com/

You might also enjoy reading the work of Theresa Brown, RN. Her first book is called The Shift, and describes from a personal point of view the challenges of a 12-hour shift. Another good book by her, Healing, describes how she dealt with breast cancer, from the patient side. https://www.theresabrownrn.com/books

Elizabeth Kolbert wrote The Sixth Extinction, a Pulitzer prize-winning book about the impact of climate change. What’s amazing about her book is how clear and readable and even enjoyable she makes such a difficult and challenging subject. https://sites.prh.com/elizabethkolbert

Angels in Medicine Articles to Use as Models

Here are a few articles I quite like, both in terms of subject and the style of writing. These should give a sense of what I’m looking for.

Benefits of Writing for Angels in Medicine

Copyright and Reuse

Angels in Medicine is a volunteer organization, which means no one is paid. In appreciation of this generosity, writers keep the copyright on their work. (In contrast, when you write for a company that pays you, they generally own the copyright.)

This means that you can reuse what you write. For instance, you can submit your article to another publication, like the local newspaper, a medical society newsletter, a national magazine, or even your own book.

Professional Editing

Each article you write is edited by me. I have 20+ years of professional editing experience, for companies such as Scientific American Medicine, Medscape, and Clinical Care Options. I am glad to share my experience with you, so that you can learn to write better articles for a general readership.

Thanks again for writing for Angels in Medicine!

Harry Goldhagen

Questions? Email me at: harryllama@yahoo.com