2012 was an interesting year. I completed my first year of doing clinical work full time as a clerk, and am in the midset of preparing for residency (interviews are in late January and early February).
As I look back, on not just this year but the past decade, I realized that I am still on my journey of “finding myself”. As I get smarter, more skilled and more experienced, I am getting closer to figuring out what I really want out of life. Yet in doing so, the more I realize how much more I need to learn and develop in order to get there.
I’ve realized that what I’m trying to achieve is not actually a goal, but rather, a way of life.
Yes, there are milestones I want to achieve (for example, receiving my M.D. this coming spring). However, I use the word milestone intentionally – for me, becoming a physician is not the end goal, but an important part of my path to something much greater. What will that be? I can’t say for certain, but as I said, I’m slowly getting closer to what that might be.
While I don’t know where I end up, I do believe there are 3 key things (more specifically, habits and attitudes) I want to work on to get there.
1. Read more
The current health care system is designed in a way that worked for the medical problems of 50 years ago – this needs to change. A lot of the problems we face today can be solved by improved utilization of technology. Unfortunately, the health care system is very good at recognizing problems and discussing the high-level solutions required, but very poor at execution. Why this is the case would need to be a blog post in and of itself, but suffice to say, health care operates in a complex environment where it’s difficult to measure success and everyone’s goals and incentives are not aligned – this is a recipe for disaster.
Technology is already transforming health care, but at an extremely slow pace. The technology we need to solve leading health care problems is already here – the challenge is figuring out how we navigate the complexities of the health care system to implement those solutions in a manner that is safe, increases quality of care, and reduces costs.
I want to become a domain expert on eHealth and mHealth (mobile health), as well as in improving health care for complex, aging patients. To do this means to build my knowledge capacity around the clinical, technological, development, implementation and policy issues in this space.
In short, I need to read a lot more than I am now. News, blogs, literature in this space is abundant, and rapidly growing – I need to stay on top of this. I really should be reading 2-3 hours a day to do this, and I currently don’t come anywhere close to that.
2. Network more
Knowledge is power, but people drive change. Meeting the right people has enhanced my perspective on things, opened new doors, and provided a type of wisdom I can’t get from just reading. I can’t understate how some of my greatest opportunities have come from people I met by chance (and the same goes for myself helping to open doors for other people).
The past year in clerkship was not a very good time for expanding my network beyond my work environment. I want to be better dedicated to meeting new people, sharing and learning ideas, and helping myself and others to find opportunities to help us grow and achieve our goals.
Most importantly, I want to execute, and you need the right support and networks in a system as complex as health care to execute at all.
3. Eat better and exercise more
I don’t need any new information to prove this is important – I know from first hand experience.
Whenever I eat better and exercise more, I sleep better and have more energy to get stuff done. Not to mention that once you spend some time on an internal medicine ward, you start to realize how much we take our health for granted, and that we need to invest in our personal health right now so that our quality of life continues to be great much later.
4. Speak more
I haven’t done public speaking in over a year, mostly because clerkship controlled my life. My schedule is more free in 4th year, and I’d like to really get out there again.
If anyone is interested in having my speak at their school, club, conference, etc., let me know. Name your topic and I will try to do it. I will also be reaching out to various groups and conferences to try and develop my own opportunities to speak.
5. Execute more
I’m listing this as #5, but it really should be #1. The number one mistake people make (myself included) is spending too much time thinking and not enough time doing.
It’s counterintuitive, but the truth is that it’s better to get started and get something done rather than waiting to figure out the perfect way to do something. Waiting is the perfect excuse to not getting stuff done.
Execute… but what? Basically everything. Execute the things on this list, any new ideas that come up during the year, etc.
Think less, do more.
Some people are going to tell me rag on me for not making SMART goals or habits. If that works for you, then great, use it.
Whatever the case may be, I suggest you focus on figuring out what habits and attitudes you need to change or develop to enhance your life, rather than specific end goals.
What do you need to do more in 2013?