I bit the bullet and purchased a domain name. The blog has now migrated to http://howardpchen.com/blog.
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.
If you have more than one reason to do something … just don’t do it. It does not mean that one reason is better than two, just that by invoking more than one reason you are trying to convince yourself to do something. Obvious decisions (robust to error) require no more than a single reason.
– Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder
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)”
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
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
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”