Why Study Medical Biographies

Biographies focus on people and their lives. Biographies have been written since ancient times. The biographies of people who made a difference in this world need to be disseminated for the sake of human curiosity about their lives and for the reader to gain inspiration from their lives. 

We refer to medical biographies as biographies of people involved in providing, receiving, administering, and managing health care. They may include accounts of the lives of healthcare providers like physicians, nurses, and pharmacists. In addition, they can describe the lives of non-clinical professionals, including biomedical scientists, administrators, teachers, etc. Yet, they can also include the accounts of the lives of notable patients with a particular disease. 

The account of one’s own life can be written by oneself (as an autobiography), like the one written by Dr. Archie Cochrane, one of the fathers of evidence-based medicine. However, medical biographies are very often written by others, such as journalists, copywriters, and historians. They can also be written by close professional associates, disciples, or friends of a person. Sometimes, even the immediate or distant family members could also write a biography. Going by this logic anyone can write a medical biography, including medical writers. 

There have been several organized efforts to disseminate medical biographies. The Journal of Medical Biography is a three-decade-old quarterly scholarly journal solely dedicated to medical biographies, which is published by a reputed publishing house. Encyclopaedias, both print and electronic, remain important sources of medical biographies. Academic medical journals routinely publish biographical accounts of eminent experts from their respective fields in the form of detailed obituaries. 

Compilations of medical biographies have often been published in the form of books and are a must-have collection in good medical libraries. A medical biography can follow an encyclopedic style or focus on the significance of the works produced in the career of the subject of the medical biography. 

In summary, medical biographies could be considered as documents that not only track the progress of the lives of individuals but also reflect on the history of medical innovation. 

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