Sunday, December 21, 2014

N of 1: 21 Days to Expert Enough

      What I am about to describe is next year's plan of self-experimentation, which has its origins in the things I've been reading and thinking about this year. A foray into the quantified self movement this year using the AskMeEvery service and numerous articles on methods of becoming "expert enough" have convinced me of the need for a structured program for self-improvement. A blog is perhaps the most useful tool to keep the self-experimenter on task; I first experienced the power of this motivation at the end of medical school, when I reflected on a number of William Osler's quotes during the first half of April. I still carry in me the lessons I learned from that time.

     Specifically, I am laying out a calendar of 12 21-day self-improvement projects I plan to accomplish over the next year. I chose 21 days because it takes at least that long to ingrain a habit (recent research actually puts the number at 66 days), and because it gives me wiggle room to miss a few days each month. This blog will be the site for my reflections on each project. The specifics will probably change, but as of now, my plan is as follows:

21 Days to Expert Enough

January: Approximate a direct pay primary care clinic in my clinic 

February: Blog about 21 cases in Togo, learn 21 French words a day, intubate 21 patients, and perform 21 surgeries (Caesarian deliveries, D & C's, exploratory laparotomies, etc.)

March: Teach medical students or interns about 21 different topics

April: Read 21 books

May: Build my website

June: Go through 21 medical journals (including back-issues of NEJM, AFP, JAMA)

July: Establish 21 new professional contacts

August: Quantify 21 areas of my life using the Apple Watch 

September: Establish a long-term financial plan   

October: Update my website or blog 21 times

November: Start a YouTube channel

December: Re-pursue one of the above projects, and do it better.

     A longitudinal project I'm pursing this year is a monthly Paleo Health Class (set to start in April and run for one year) for patients, staff, and faculty of Via Christi. The website and Youtube projects are even more long-term projects I've been hoping to start for the better part of the past year. My longest-term project will be the establishment of my own (or partnered) Direct Primary Care practice after residency, location TBD. Perhaps I'll be able to expand to multiple locations after a few years, as the Atlas MD folks are starting to envision.

     Rather than list out a bunch of resolutions you vaguely hope to accomplish but probably won't, why don't you consider committing to a more structured program of self-improvement? As 2015 begins, I hope I can inspire you to begin the process of quantifying yourself with the goal of becoming more effective, efficient, healthy, wealthy, wise, and happy.

     Be well.


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