Category Archives: Uncategorized and Medical Writing

One of the more difficult posts to put together was my most recent on  The writer of such a topic can’t help but be placed under a microscope.  I don’t claim to be a good writer, but in some technical way I am a medical writer simply by writing this post.  So even though I can’t come close to turning a phrase like a master writer, I continue to write because I feel as though I have info to communicate.  Most of my posts are just that, simple exposition of information with my personal experience and opinions thrown in.  Having looked for high quality, high-yield information from those that have been successful in an endeavor is difficult to find, having looked for many years when I was looking for a career outside of medicine.  With the advent and popularization of blogging information is plentiful.  The difficulty now is to find useful information which is why I love blogging for Nonclincialjobs and FreelanceMD-both have information that is incredibly useful.  In the case of Nonclincialjobs, I used what I read there to lead me to my current job.  In the case of FreelanceMD, I weekly read an article that I wish I had written.  The posts are information that I had gathered the hard way-by trial and error-and is presented in an easily digestible format.

So, kudos to both and for doing an amazing job in furthering the quality of physicians lives-no matter what their job title may be!

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Posted by on 04/22/2011 in Uncategorized


Location based apps and the frequent traveler

With my new job I’ve been traveling on an almost weekly basis which has given me a chance to try out some of the different location based social apps, including FourSquare, Gowalla, Facebook Places, Google Latitude, Yelp, UrbanSpoon, google Places, Waze, and Footfeed.  I’ll start off with the most useful and work my way down:

Foursquare is likely the most used location based app in the United States and I found many reasons why.  The idea of mayorship is particularly brilliant as those in the know want to be recognized as such.  Almost as much fun is accumulating the badges.  I found that this was the app I used the most when I was local to my home.  Almost every business can be found (as well as many extraneous locations-“I’m on I-94”?) and, unless you are in the most user-heavy areas, it’s easy enough to become mayor of some location.  I haven’t found many deals of interest, but I have looked at them, which is probably the point.  Bottom line-I’m addicted!

Gowalla logoA very close second and my check in app of choice when on the road.  Although there are not as many locations, this lack of clutter is well appreciated on the road.  I’m usually only going to well known places (like hotels and restaurants) and don’t need every dry cleaner as an option.  Love the badges and pins, although I think this could be combined.  The idea of dropping items is a bit confusing, but apparently by design according to the developers.  My favorite idea is a seperate pin for each state (although I sometimes cheat with my layovers, which really shouldn’t be an official visit).  I still haven’t been able to take advantage of the “trips,” although if I lived in a certain areas it would be more attainable.

UrbanSpoon logo No question my go to app for finding a great restaurant.  On the whole I’ve found that I agree with the ratings on the app.  I’ve used this in Milwaukee and I have to say that I agree with more than 80% of the top eating locals that they recommend.  Be warned though, my tastes are more of the flavorful/spicy local joints.  If you are more of an Olive Garden/Applebee’s person you may not agree with my findings.  It’s tough to find the eatery hours (there’s just a vague b-fast, lunch, dinner, late night listing) and the info sometimes is outdated or wrong.  To it’s credit, urbanspoon did warn me that Illinois was new and they would appreciate user feedback to help improve the info.

Waze logoBringing social media to drivers, Waze is a sometimes useful app that has helped me a couple times with hidden cops.  I love the concept-as you drive with Waze on in the background it learns the roads and your driving habits-but with a limited number of users, the concept falls a bit flat.  For one, I’m never positive that it’s running in the background, making me question if I’m accumulating “points” (of course it’s a game!).  The hazards and construction are a bit erratic. Finally some data is either wrong or outdated-I was going 60 in a section where the app said I would only be able to go 20.  If Waze can get a critical number of users, this could be an amazing app telling you in real time traffic, construction and police hideouts!

Facebook Places logoI place this lower mostly because I don’t like to announce when I’m out of town live to such a large group (perhaps an idea FB can look into?) and there’s no game aspect.  As silly as it sounds, being able to accumulate badges and pins goes a long way to motivating me to check-in.  It’s probably the best way to get info on your location out to your friends in real time, especially useful if you live near the great majority of people you want to spend time with.  Other than that I haven’t found much utility as you would upload pics and recs via FB and not this app in particular.


Another great location based service, the only problem is that I haven’t much need for it!  As I use urbanspoon for my restaurant recs and have already established my day-to-day stores to get things done, I haven’t found much use to open up the app.




Google Places logo I’m a huge fanboy of Google (despite my iPhone) but with urbanspoon out there, the only niche I use this is when I need driving directions to a place.  I often will find the location or store that I want to go to from other sources and will then copy and paste into this application to find the best way to get there from “here”  I do like the general categories which allow the ability to find any coffee shop nearby (unlike the Starbucks app which, predictably, only show Starbucks) which has helped my find some interesting local places.  However, overall, not much use for this app


Footfeed logoAn interesting concept-the ability to check into a number of location based apps from one source-but has many limits.  Once you set up the program you can sign into Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook Places and Google Latitude with one tap.  However, you can’t also upload pics via this app.  Some of the api’s don’t allow Footfeed to add locations directly from the app, which means you have to go to the primary app to add it, which gets tedious.  You do get kudos for checking into multiple locations, but no real gamesmanship here.  I used this as my primary app until I decided that it’s more fun to be able to share pics and tips rather than simply check-in to a location.


Latitude logoAs I mentioned earlier, I’m a big google fanboy, but really see no point to this app.  There’s no gamesmanship, no real social aspect and it only links to update my Google Profile page, which probably garners fewer views than my blog 😉  Unfortunately I have to put it with Buzz as ideas that Google completely fell flat with.

One interesting footnote is the emergence of preemptive check-in apps.  In effect, when you are thinking of going to the movie you “check-in” so that your friends can join you or you possibly could get deals from the establishment that you are planning on going to.  As those apps come out, I’m sure I’ll be using and reviewing them!

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Posted by on 04/01/2011 in Uncategorized


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A great idea wrapped in a bad one…

A very interesting new app came out called Color.  Now the app is interesting for a couple reason’s, the least of which is it’s function.  It has a list of recognizable developers, $41 million in startup money and, as witnessed be the comments in the article, not much respect among the public.  I have to agree that I found the overall concept silly, and, to my 34 year old mind, not much useful.

That’s not to say that it didn’t spark a very interesting thought.  Within the app is a color wheel that apparently changes color based on the strength of your tie to another person.  If you “check in” with someone, that color gets stronger.  This led me down that path of a separate game app that uses this technology.  What I envision is a game-like app (along the lines of foursquare or Waze) that takes a daily task and gives awards to those who are proficient.  Although we all know folks who have 500+ connections on LinkedIn and over 1000 friends on Facebook, the ability to quantify the strength of those relationships is more important than the absolute number.

Here’s how the app would work.  The core would be web based and would allow you to connect to Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Blogger, Twitter etc.  This desktop app would aggregate your activity from all the different sites.  For example, every time you check in with someone else on Foursquare, have a reply to your tweet or have someone comment on your update on LinkedIn that data would be organized in this new app.  Each relationship you have on the various sites would be quantified, and, taken as a whole would comprise your “score.”  Those with a higher score would be more connected.  There would be benefits for all those involved:

  1. Users would be able to show that they are not simply accumulating numbers, but actually developing meaningful relationship.  Those with a higher score would be more valuable to advertisers, thereby earning free gifts from either the advertisers themselves, or via the social networks.
  2. For the social networks-increased use.  Another frustration with the current system is those with 50 strong connections and 50 weak appears to have less influence than someone with 1000 “garbage” relationships.  The networking sites could leverage different levels of members for a tiered advertising system.  That is to say those with 50 strong connections would rate a higher advertising rate than someone with 1000 garbage “friends”
  3. For companies looking to maximize their marketing dollars a defined way of knowing what impact your ads will have.  Just as bonds are rated AAA and down, you could buy ads of varying prices that have varied impact.

This model could be expanded to any online site that has an API or RSS feed.  Although those with a strong online social network will benefit the most, even those with limited online presence can be “found” as their are marked as checked in by someone with the social apps.

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Posted by on 03/30/2011 in Uncategorized and financial analysis

Continuing my exploration of various non-clinical jobs and books that relate to the various fields, I took on financial analysis last week.  It was an easy post to write, as there are a plethora of books discussing economics-something that I have a great side interest in.  One of my all time favorite books is Freakonomics, which I love discussing at the drop of a hat.  It takes some of our greatest misconceptions and provides great a great financial twist that makes you look at the subject in a whole new light.  I had a lot of fun writing this, and some difficulty in choosing which books to discuss and which to simply leave in the “see also” section at the end.

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Posted by on 03/28/2011 in Uncategorized


Ignore Everybody on FreelanceMD

One of my favorite books is Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity, which I wrote about in my most recent blog post on FreelanceMD.  It’s a book that’s intended for artists, but I found that it had some great advice for physicians.  What is most amazing is that the book took less than an hour to read!  I probably had more words in my post than the book has in it’s entirety.

I read the book when I was working in general pediatrics and thinking about my career options and how to transition into a satisfying career.  It couldn’t have been a better moment as it helped guide my transition into the nonclinical world.  Although it doesn’t provide step by step instructions, it gives a framework for how “pay the bills” while gaining intellectual satisfaction from you profession.  If you’re thinking about a transition (in any industry) read the post and definitely read the book!



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Posted by on 03/24/2011 in Uncategorized


Griftopia and parenting

Griftopia front coverI recently finished reading Griftopia.  For those not familiar, be warned that it is a far left-leaning book that does contain the strong opinions of the author, a writer for Rolling Stone magazine.  Although I lean left in my politics, I still had to look past the some of the stronger sentiments of the writer to get to the central theme of this book-that various forces have come together to make our economy into one speculative bubble after another.  Tabbi does a great job of going over the bubbles of the past 20 years, including the housing, internet and commodity bubbles of the last decade.  The writing is intended to get you upset at the powers that are causing these wide fluctuations that result in huge money for those in power, but a huge amount of grief (to put it mildly) for those of us on the ground.

How in the world does this relate to parenting?  As a pediatrician and parent myself one of the points of emphasis in raising kids is that actions have consequences.  If you don’t try the new food on your plate, you may get hungry before it’s time to eat again.  It’s easy as a parent to see your kids hungry and give them a snack that you know they like, but it’s harder to help them to learn the lesson of trying new kinds of food.  Of course, I don’t advocate keeping your kids hungry, but on occasion pushing your kids comfort zone is needed.  I’ve seen many, many kids whose parents take the easy road and end up with children who will eat only a few items.  At Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin there’s a specific 2-week program to help kids that are at the extremes of this scenario.  In a great number of instances it takes as long to train the parent in this skill as it does the kid!

The lesson was not missed when Taibbi discussed issues such as the financial crisis.  The very notion of “too big to fail” goes contrary to every action has a consequence.  Another example is our current political system.  The idea that we have elections every four years means that presidents (and other elected officials) have to prove their worth in the short term without regard for the long term consequences of actions.  In fact, by the time those negative consequences are realized the politician is out of office and onto a consulting job with a major company, often with astronomical salaries.  A similar situation is seen with large corporations, where you can simply replace the elections with quarterly reports.

Just as the bailout laid the pain of corporate bad deeds on the taxpayers, many other industries have put their consequences on the American majority.  The insurance companies often will get the federal government to claim areas ravaged by floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and the like as disaster areas.  This means federal dollars have to support the clean up, absolving insurance companies of payments from their pockets as was seen in Katrina.

The political and financial ramifications of this are far-reaching, but once again, some of the most common sense, simplest rules in life are often the most powerful if not followed.

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Posted by on 03/21/2011 in Uncategorized


First post on FreelanceMD

My first post on FreelanceMD went live on Sunday.  It was a post I had a lot of fun writing-looking at books that on the surface seem to have nothing to do with medicine, but have a weath of information for physicians when read.  The Long Tail is categorized as a business book, but it has great insight into the superspecialization of medicine today.  The idea of the family doc who delivers babies one day and sedates a patient the next, treats outpatient diabetes on the third and read x-rays on the fourth, all while holding title to chief medical officer is gone.  Even if an individual was adept at all these fields, no malpractice carrier would cover him for all the specialties unless he was board eligible-a proposition that would take at least 10 years post medical school in the above scenario.

I’ve been thinking over all the books that I’ve read over the last 10 years and realizing that although the majority had a major influence on my medical practice, many of them I can’t remember.  So I picked up my handy iPhone (thanks Allscripts!) and looked for an app.  And surprisingly I couldn’t find one that I thought was well polished.  A great booklovers app would not only extract book info from the ISBN barcode, but also allow any reviews you write to be published to the social media outlets.  Goodreads seems to have all the pieces in place, but when I went to start archiving all my books, they all popped up on my Twitter feed and FB stream-annoying many a folk! So it needs a better interface with both so that you can select which get sent out and which ae for internal use, plus the ability to get reviews out to the big three (FB, LinkedIn and Twitter) along with personal blogs.

I’ve got a number of books in mind for FreelanceMD that are not “medical” books, but go a long way to helping define the practice of medicine.  Look for ’em soon!

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Posted by on 03/18/2011 in Uncategorized