When I was in 8th grade, my English teacher wanted to give everyone a book to take into high school. She had a cardboard box full of various books. There was literary fiction like Toni Morrison. There was a memory aid for American presidents. But I came to class really late that day, so by the time I went up to the box, there were only a few books left. I had the great choice between Billy Budd (dryest. book. ever.), Atlas Shrugged, and this book called Getting Things Done.
I picked up Getting Things Done because Atlas Shrugged didn’t fit in my bookbag. It would be years before I realized that self-help productivity books is in itself a major genre of nonfiction. At the time it just didn’t make sense why anyone would need such pathologic level of compulsion to keep things organized.
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If you are a radiology resident, you probably spend more than eight hours a day in front of a computer. Just as a cardiologist might spend hours looking for the best-in-class stethoscope and a neurologist a perfectly balanced reflex hammer, a radiologist might do well to spend some time thinking about spiffing up your workstation.
These are not radiology-specific tools. They are also not mind-blowing innovations. Instead, their existence often go unnoticed. Like air, some tasks that these programs help you with are so ubiquitous you may not even even realize they could be improved.
Screen capturing is easy as 1, 2, 3
There is always a role for downloading full resolution TIFF images for publication purposes. However, sometimes you just want a simple screenshot for case conference or teaching file.
Fortunately, there’s a one that is on just about every modern Windows machine.
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This is the first in a series of posts about preparing for the radiology core exam.
September is an interesting month for third year residents. Your upper class residents finished the core exam 2-3 months ago and receive their scores in August. The new editions of preparation books for the next year are often published around this time.
And, if you are like me, September is the month you might do some practice cases from a question bank and realize the you have a lot of work to do.
This series of periodic short posts will documents the progress of my core exam preparation. I am at best a mediocre test taker who happens to procrastinate a lot; this is a bad combination for standardized testing. By keeping this series, hopefully I can keep up with what will be an overwhelming volume of information that I will have to know.
The clock hit 7pm. My thumb off the deadman switch on the dictaphone. The glow of the reading room workstation monitors reflected off my glasses. I squinted. A click of the mouse. A curious pause.
And then there it was. I saw…
Nothing. A worklist with zero unread exam.
Inbox zero, Epic Radiant variant.
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Your academic mentors invest their time in your future, so they want to see you succeed.
Your friends and loved ones care about your well being, so they want to see you succeed.
Your department invest equipment and resources on your training, so it wants to see you succeed.
But the real world has no accountability to you, so it doesn’t have to care about your success.
That’s a good thing because the real world only cares about actual good work. So put your ideas project out there, and let the world see. Send out an abstract, write a paper, propose a grant.
Whatever the outcome, you learn where you stand. It’s the market economy at work, and the academic equivalent of an open beta test.
So it’s not so much about putting forth your best work – you can’t always tell what “best” is.
It takes courage just to put forth work, and more so to let the others decide.
This is a continuation of a thread of posts (part 1, part 2).
3. Put the whole project on a list and off your mind, or don’t use one at all.
Computers are simple creations. Despite dramatic advances in artificial intelligence – and the ensuing debate on what constitutes “intelligence” – our multi-core, multi-gigahertz processing machines touting terabytes of storage can’t make a decision that it wasn’t programmed to do. Continue reading →
This post is part of a series (part 1 | part 2 | part 3)
2. if something needs to be done at a certain time, make it a calendar event, not a TODO ITEM.
Computer are actually incapable of recognizing time. When you tell the computer to “wait 1 second,” it actually converts 1 second to the number of CPU cycles to wait before executing your code. This means that if another program suddenly tries to execute high priority code right before your timer is up, the CPU will go run their code and leave your program hanging to dry. Continue reading →
This prolific (and also very nice) guy wrote extensively about the importance of checklists in medicine, and how we need more of them. If you work in healthcare and are now accustomed to doing “timeouts” you have this man to thank. Some people say checklists make medicine sound like a cookbook, making doctors work like computer software following instructions. Continue reading →
In the state of Pennsylvania you need a special permit to practice medicine outside of the supervision of an attending physician, called the unrestricted license. For most residents, this is not a requirement – your training license allows you to train, and your unrestricted license allows you to practice, well, without restriction (really, it’s not that complicated). Usually this means moonlighting.
Moonlighting is actually a glorious thing for a resident. You get hands-on experience for problem solving, and the extra income goes a long way to supplement rent, food, and student loans for an in-training doctor. Continue reading →
Continuously practicing is how we become better at something – at school, at work, at sports, at a hobby. The converging destination at the end of countless hours of practice is usually routine. The task becomes routine. This is what we want. Finding the toughest questions on the problem set routine and banal is how you realize you are ready for the calculus final. Having managed myriad complications and knows what to do for each combination of things-gone-wrong is how you would want to pick a surgeon. Routine is good. Routine means no surprises. Routine is how you know you’ve gotten there, surpassing the threshold of difficulty and now looking down at the remains of the world.
Surprises can sometimes be bad, but so can routines. As we learn to become experts we take on the thought patterns of other experts. Experts make the mistakes of experts, and, surrounded by other experts, become blind to these cognitive errors. Sometimes it takes a fresh pair of eyes to see just how far off center we have gone.
Slow down and take a breather. Then look around and see if things look a little different. Of course things are not actually different. Your tasks remain the same, the calculus problem is still there, and the surgery will not perform itself. No, what was different in those 10 seconds was you. Deliberately doing something a little differently, even something immaterial, breaks up the routine and monotony, bringing back new perspective to the old problem.