There are signals in our professional life that seem clear and obvious in our rearview mirror. This is the time of year where I like to think of what worked and what stunk--and perhaps think of what might work better in the new year. I hope you enjoy the list and will start one of your own...
Because I like to end on a positive note I will start with the peeves or the less than productive lessons:
I am curious if you have had a smiliar experience. I am fortunate to have collaborated and interacted with some of the most brilliant minds in medicine, health policy, and health economics. Not one of them ever introduced themselves with their prefix. Always a first name, a hardy handshake, no pretense.
I was on a panel earlier in the year where a few non-medical colleagues interrupted my conversations to introduce themselves to an attendee or presenter "Hi, I am blah, blah PhD. What is that all about? If you have to tell people you have credibility by offering your diploma credentials into your narrative conversations--maybe you don't have any.
Full disclosure, I don't have a PhD. What I do have is a doctorate degree in alternative medicine. And a MSc earned as a bench scientist studying population genetics. I have dissected human bodies (more than one), learned every nerve, artery, vein, muscle, organ, and layer of the human body.
Our gross anatomy tests were brilliant. Multiple stations were set up all over the large auditorium. Walking up to a station might be as simple as a red thread tied around an artery. Your job wasn't merely identification but you certainly needed to know the perfusion patterns. You would be asked to describe what would happen if that artery was severed. What would be happening upstream and downstream of the event.
My point is that your journey has value. Your perspective--when well informed--is all you need. Don't be discouraged. I am responding to people that want to know how to be a writer. I get many messages from medical doctors, medical researchers, and even journalists that just want to know where to begin. Begin with you. Start writing and reading with equal voracity.
One more stinky thing...
I enjoy meeting with colleagues when I am on the road. You gain a personal awareness of people once you have shared a coffee, bourbon, or even a meal. What I don't like is when people are only interested in what I can do for them. That is work. I have work. Plenty of it. My advice for people that want mentors, be of service. If approached by someone that has enough insight and awareness to know their value and how they can help with a pain point or business need--I want to know you and help in any way I can.
I have been shown more grace and generosity in my professional life this year than in all years prior combined...having said that it would be impossible to list everything but there were a few things that I think might appeal to many of you.
1. If you are a writer or creator of content (for lack of a better word) each piece stands alone. You will create amazing work that you are proud of and lets face of it--some of it might be only one step up from sucking. Embrace what you learn. If something tanks don't consider it a referendum on your skill or value. Move on to the next thing...
2. Keep the idea muscle separate from the implementation muscle. I like to collect ideas. Many of my posts here or Alzheimer's Disease The Brand are "pins" in thoughts or topics that will find their way into a book or a long form article. My point is to not let your concern for the "how" diminsh your creativity--the "why" that generates the ideas. Trust me. When you get a lot of ideas you begin to see links and patterns that weren't possible in isolation.
3. Look for meetings in your area or beyond. Network. network. network. Come to the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference. Be wary of programs that are trying to sell to you in a constant loop of information. A strong foundation in science and global perspectives is vital to communication. I will be there. You might find your red door knob...or you can buy me a bourbon...
Science is a global endeavor that advances when knowledge is both generated and shared. Increasingly, scientists and engineers are working both within and outside of national boundaries on local and global issues. Challenges necessitating innovation and international scientific collaboration are abundant in food and water security, sustainable development, infectious disease and health, climate change, natural disasters, and energy. Countries with varying levels of development, education, and scientific capacity may have different goals and expectations for international scientific engagement. What elements make international collaboration successful and sustainable? What engagement opportunities are available, and what are the responsibilities of researchers, entrepreneurs, educators, and policymakers in global scientific endeavors? - See more at: AAAS
Thoughtful discussions about content development and outcomes analytics that apply the principles and frameworks of health policy and economics to persistent and perplexing health and health care problems.
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In a world of "evidence-based" medicine I am a bigger fan of practice-based evidence.
Remember the quote by Upton Sinclair...
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”