Whether it’s translating the language of risk and risk factors into normal language or explaining the background, history, metaphors and other influences that underpin our understanding of medicine, her work demystifies the often confusing, sometimes conflicting, and increasingly authoritative barrage of health information. In the (delightfully flattering) words of a former student, she’s a bit like a “quirky encyclopedia” of medicine.
Curiosity and the desire to better understand how disparate ideas evolve into what we think of as “facts” has always been the cornerstone of Susan’s work. She began her somewhat unorthodox career with a brief stint as a stand-up comic (as part of a duo, Idiot Proof); later she worked as a taxi driver, substitute teacher and then began writing professionally, initially as a comedy writer, then TV scripts, eventually moving to print where she’s more or less stayed ever since – blogging being the cyber equivalent of print after all. She has authored (and ghosted) several books – with her last book, The Estrogen Errors; Why Progesterone is Better for Women’s Health (Praeger, 2009), she invited Vancouver endocrinologist Jerilynn Prior to co-author.
Susan’s has a PhD in interdisciplinary studies and a BA in Psychology. She is a reviewer for CMAJ and CMAJ Open and was Scholar-in-residence (Canadian Academy of Independent Scholars) in 2015. She teaches at the Faculty of Health Science at SFU part time. Her blog primarily covers health/medical topics but occasionally veers into more general areas.
Her eclectic past experiences as a working writer – from a 4 a.m. jaunt on a Greenpeace dinghy to hanging out backstage with the Winnipeg Ballet’s Evelyn Hart – provide insights and anecdotes that make her work more interesting to students and readers; as such she’s able to get past the “magic” of medical technologies and understand the messy realities of patient care. Her doctoral research Medicine, Metaphors and Metaphysics (now published by Scholar’s Press). A single, simple policy – restrictive formularies – became an interdisciplinary analysis of clinical medicine and health advice, including concepts from pharmacology, medical sociology/anthropology, health economics, bioethics, communications and history.
Susan Baxter lives in Vancouver, Canada where she continues to write and teach.