About 12 years ago, I made a career change with the aim of improving the usability of electronic health (EHR) records. A little side project was a monthly morning salon called "Geek Salad: Tossing Ideas Around". At a local coffee shop, we commandeered the large display to marvel at some recent discovery (a new software tool, stunning data visualization or creative spark one of us had.) We met for 2 years, and the time came to let it go.
Now, 12+ years later, it's time to let go of more.
Two years ago, I retired from patient care after 38 gratifying years. Since then, I've work 75% time mostly doing IT work (training, creating new visualizations with a small team, doing some research, teaching, and writing). Now I'm able to cut back more, and organizational fiscal forces gave a further nudge. I'll work 50% starting in July, then zero% in January. I'm still smiling.
The dozen year gig has been a tasty treat.
I'll mention a few morsels.
I started a blog called "TooManyClicks.com" where I could express myself about the usability of the current EHR tools. I could critique & offer quick design makeovers, share smart discoveries, and offer new design ideas to satisfy the unmet EHR needs of physicians. Readers (often from EHR usability teams) told me it gave them valuable insights. People from many EHR companies partnered readily in the work that needed to touch all EHRs. I wisely let others serve on the policy and standards committees (where I would fall short or fall asleep).
I was introduced to the work of Edward Tufte by a patient of mine (Garrel) when I told him 13 years ago of the impending career change, and he saw the relevance of Tufte's work to mine. “Geek Salad” salon was born in that exchange, too. He went on to become a non-traditional (e.g. "older than most") medical student, leaving an IT career. He's now a physician hospitalist here in Columbia at Boone Hospital Center.
My friend and hiking buddy, Brian, has helped me reflect and choose more wisely along several branching paths (career and hiking) for all parts of this journey. Colleagues from across the continent have pitched in, shared inspirations, encouraged and supported me. My wife, Sandy, has been patient and supportive with each new scheme, and only offered skepticism when I suited up to bike to work on freezing cold days.
I'll be finding a new rhythm to my days in the coming months. I look forward to the new delights that come my way. Bon appétite.