New blog address!

I bit the bullet and purchased a domain name. The blog has now migrated to http://howardpchen.com/blog.

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New blog address!

Five steps to better health symptom Googling

You are 30 years old.  You smoked for 10 years but quit last year.  You started getting a dry cough recently and becoming strangely short of breath when walking long distances and you can hear yourself wheeze.  A search for “cough with wheezing” on Google returns a very long list of medical words – some you know, some you don’t – like asthma, emphysema, bronchiolitis.  And then you come upon some heavy-weight diagnostic jargon like “allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis,” “acute respiratory distress syndrome,” and “bronchogenic pulmonary adenocarcinoma.”

Now you are really worried.

Welcome to the world of medical information overload.

It is impractical to expect modern patients to stay away from the web for aches and pains.  Photo credit: Author
The web is a double edged sword for health information.  Photo credit: Author

Continue reading “Five steps to better health symptom Googling”

Five steps to better health symptom Googling

Why “pursuing your dream” is wrong (2/2)

In Part 1 I argued that career satisfaction is built, not found.  The implicit problem is that if expertise tends to precede true passion, and world-class experts spend at least 10,000 hours honing their crafts, where along the trajectory of career development can we say, “I have given it a fair chance, and it is time to move on”? Continue reading “Why “pursuing your dream” is wrong (2/2)”

Why “pursuing your dream” is wrong (2/2)

How to mint gossip-worthy news

Word of mouth, then, is a prime tool for mak­ing a good im­pres­sion—as po­tent as that new car or Prada hand­bag. Think of it as a kind of cur­rency. So­cial cur­rency… So to get peo­ple talk­ing, com­pa­nies and or­ga­ni­za­tions need to mint so­cial cur­rency… There are three ways to do that: (1) find inner re­mark­a­bil­ity; (2) lever­age game me­chan­ics; and (3) make peo­ple feel like in­sid­ers.

– Jonah Berger, Contagious: Why Things Catch On

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Why “pursuing your dream” is wrong (1/2)

In 2005, the late Steve Jobs delivered a memorable speech to graduates of Stanford University partly on the theme of career dreams.  “If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle,” said him, adding that “Money will come.”  After the housing bubble burst and lots of dream-chasers their lost jobs in 2007, I stumbled upon a 2008 Business Week article titled “Personality and the Perfect Job.”  Books titled along the same themes, such as Do What You Are follow a similar paradigm as well.  For those who needed a faster fix, the internet offered solutions too.  Stuck in life?  Oprah has a 28-question quiz to find who you really want to be!

The implication is clear: if you failed, it’s because that was not your real passion; pick another dream.

Over the past year, I began to wonder whether the endless pursuit for pre-existing passions is missing the mark altogether.


Photo Credit: Urbanesia.com

Continue reading “Why “pursuing your dream” is wrong (1/2)”

Why “pursuing your dream” is wrong (1/2)

The Two Faces of Physician Shortage

A medical residency is not easy.  Part of the coping mechanism involves complaining among your fellow residents about everything from the work hours to the deteriorating quality of vanilla pudding parfait in the cafeteria.  Generally the discussion goes something like this:

Resident A: “The vanilla pudding parfait has too much whip cream and not enough pudding.”
Resident B: “We get paid fifty-thousand dollars a year for working eighty hours a week, and they can’t even have a respectable dessert in the cafeteria.”
Residenc A: “I am going to go have a chocolate parfait.  That one comes with an Oreo.”

While Resident A is probably just partial to chocolate, Resident B’s observation begs for an obvious non-dessert-related question.  If medical residents create such immense value at a low cost to hospitals, then increasing the size of the residency program must also be highly desirable.  But the truth is even in the face of increasing demand for physicians, America is not making many more doctors to match the demand. Continue reading “The Two Faces of Physician Shortage”

The Two Faces of Physician Shortage