Grand Rounds Themes: another No

Themes in Grand Rounds has been, pardon the pun, a theme around here.  Actually, objection to themes.

The estimable Dr. Schwab of Surgeonsblog objects, as well:

…But Grand Themes is an entirely different kettle of fish. I blog, in theory at least, because I have things I want to say. Sometimes a subject evolves from a comment or suggestion I get, which is great: it means my blog is stimulating (or so I’d like to think.) I assume that’s what motivates most of us. To turn Grand Rounds into a theme dictated by the host is entirely different and, in my opinion, wrong. Want people to write about a subject you find interesting? Excellent idea! Post a request for submissions and call it whatever you want. Just don’t call it Grand Rounds.

I seem to be in some good company.


  1. Themes per se don’t bother me, as long as they’re not compulsory. They can be quite interesting but should not be a condition of being included in GR for the week. Still a fan of the “featured posts, then linkdump” format.

  2. I completely agree w/ Surgeonsblog and wish I could have put it better myself.

    I wonder exactly when Grand Rounds became an optional writing course on could participate in.

    I like reading Grand Rounds because I enjoy seeing a compilation of good posts from regular, seasoned bloggers as well as to be introduced to new bloggers.
    With themes, I believe a significant population of good reading is missed.

    I’d love to participate but the themes chosen, in my opinion, have been somewhat bland. I haven’t read the last two weeks worth of Grand Rounds because the theme did not interest me.

    “Grand Rounds” was named for the traditional “rounding” done by physicians, correct? If that’s the case, when did physicians get to chose a theme of the week in their cases?

  3. Well, grand rounds in the clinical setting is not quite like a normal ward round. It’s a presentation of cases from all over, usually to a large audience and yes, it’s not unheard of for it to be on a certain topic eg. sepsis, trauma, etc. Not really analogous to the medblog situation where half the articles will be describing a case, the other half ranting on a health policy issue or the crappy day they just had!

    I’d like to see those hosts who feel so inclined offer a theme for them that wants one, but not limit submissions based on it.

  4. I absolutely agree. I don’t want to write a post on a subject I don’t want to write about. The theme should be the design not the topic. When the Grand rounds theme was about Snoopy, I found it funny. But when it is about evidence-based medicine or emotions for example, I find it a very bad idea. I never write on emotions in healthcare so then I should not be included in a Grand rounds?

    Thank you GruntDoc for posting this.

  5. Themes are absolutely boring.

  6. Excuse me, but since when does a given blogger have a “right” to be included in every GR? It’s one thing if you’re complaining that you don’t like reading themed GRs, but if you don’t happen to enjoy writing the kind of things suggested by the theme, then don’t submit that week.

    FWIW, I find that without a theme, many-to-most of the submissions are from the “same old gang.” Don’t get me wrong: I like them. I read most of their blogs, plenty of which are even on my blogroll. I think there may be a wider range of “new” (to me) bloggers in themed GRs.

    I also think that as a multiple-GR host, your concerns are perhaps more valid than those of, say, Dr. Schwab, who has not had the experience of hosting.

    Full disclosure: I am scheduled to host for the first time at the end of February; I am trying out a theme (“change”) and notice has been up on my sidebar for several weeks. No idea how it’s going to go over, but what the hell.

    Just one old dinosaur’s opinion.

  7. Dino,
    I don’t thinks anyone feels there’s a ‘right’ to have their post included in GR; on the contrary, even those of us who feel themes aren’t the right way for GR to go support the host’s right to do with it as they see fit; we’re just trying to influence future hosts to eschew the theme, or at least not exclude posts that don’t follow/fit the theme.

    I’d disagree that my opinions about the format are more valid because I’ve hosted, as the readers are the ultimate arbiters of success of failure. I can give some insight into how I mechanically did it, but anyone who’s seen the three I hosted could figure it out quickly. (That being said, I might change the format next time, but it still won’t be an exclusionary theme).

    It’s actually terrific we have a big enough community we can have this kind of a discussion, and remain civil in the land of the internet.

    And, none of this is aimed at you; it’s just some unfortunate timing that you have a theme scheduled when the anti-themers gained some voices.

  8. I do think there is a difference between a required theme in which a host is looking for people to submit posts that relate to something specific – and someone who takes all the posts submitted and designs it into a theme. It’s one thing to look at your posts and organize it into the format of a medical journal or a peanuts comic strip, for fun. But if you require that all posts must be fictional patient stories that touched your heart – that’s a lot more exclusive. I do tend to like the editions where the host does something creative with it – and that is often while including an overall “theme” but without requiring that all posts fit into some specific category. (Like Kim’s cuppa joe theme or Mother Jones’ peanuts theme….those are themes without excluding posts that don’t fit a certain mold) But aside from that, I prefer simplicity where the author highlights a few posts and then gives shorter blurbs with links to the other chosen ones, with a link dump at the end for any not selected for “inclusion.” My .02 – hope this makes sense! I was having a hard time separating the descriptions!

    Take care!
    Carrie :)