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An Interview With Physician & Author Ken Cohn

A Conversation With Physician-Author Ken Cohn

Ken Cohn first came to my publishing course many years ago. Eager to learn everything he could about writing and publishing his ideas, he soaked up the information and shook as many hands as possible. Today, he's a successful surgeon, consultant and author with a new book out titled "Getting It Done: Experienced Healthcare Leaders Reveal Field-Tested Strategies for Clinical and Financial Success". 

When did you start writing and publishing?

Although I had published scientific articles, my first systematic approach to writing and publishing occurred in 2003 when I took the SEAK course on nonfiction writing.  That course helped understand the principles of market-driven writing, of striving to meet and exceed the needs of my readers.  Before, I had viewed writing as a product of scientific investigation.

Why did you write your first book? 

In 2004, I received a call from the editor of Health Administration Press, the publishing arm of the American College of Healthcare Executives.  She said that she was working on a series of books for busy healthcare executives and asked me if I thought that the material from my 2-day seminar, Practical Strategies for Engaging Physicians, could fit into an Executive Essentials format.  When I said that I believed so, she warned me, “Just because you have published articles does not mean that it will be easy.  Writing a book is different.”

My first book, "Better Communication for Better Care: Mastering Physician-Administrator Collaboration", was published March 2005.  Comments from healthcare leaders gave rise to my 2nd book, "Collaborate for Success! Breakthrough Strategies for Engaging Physicians, Nurses, and Hospital Executives", which was published September 2006.  After publication, my editor bragged, “I launched you!”

How has writing and publishing helped you with your work mission?

To quote Francis Bacon, “Writing maketh an exact man.”  Writing has helped me clarify principles of healthcare collaboration, especially its implementation.  It has also brought me into contact with truly dedicated healthcare leaders throughout the US, which has lead to numerous opportunities to speak and consult on challenging issues.  John Eggen, who taught me about book marketing, states that the words “author” and “authority” have the same root.  Especially with the rise in Internet searches, writing a book establishes one as someone who has mastered a body of knowledge.  I recommend writing to all physicians who are considering career transitions.  One can begin by writing essays in a blog and seeing how the writing evolves.

Why did you publish your new book?

"Getting It Done" is a compilation of 16 heroes’ journeys about healthcare professionals who broke down barriers to improve care for their communities.  For example, Dr. Jeff Fried is a medical ICU director who felt that too many people were dying from overwhelming bacterial infection, or sepsis.  By working with healthcare professionals at his hospital to improve diagnosis and institute earlier treatment, he cut the death rate from sepsis by over 50%, without changing or adding a single drug.  Over 200 lives have been saved over the past 5 years as a result of his work.

I have worked in 41 states in the US.  As I traveled around the country and witnessed triumphs like Dr. Fried’s, I became convinced that their results, which were published in journals like Critical Care Medicine, needed to be included in a book which healthcare leaders would read.    

For more information (including chapter summaries) about Dr. Cohn's new book, "Getting It Done: Experienced Healthcare Leaders Reveal Field-Tested Strategies for Clinical and Financial Success", visit

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