Saturday, December 31, 2022

Annual Reflections at the End of 2022

I am keeping my tradition in this blog this year of ending the calendar year with a retrospective on the past year and some musings looking forward.

Clearly our lives were still dominated in 2022 by the COVID-19 pandemic. While a fair amount of living has returned to relative normal, there are some changes that will likely never fully reverse. Certainly a major one for myself and my immediate co-workers is the likely continuation of mostly remote work.

Looking back, my last annual year-end post from the "before times" was in 2019. It was an ordinary post, discussing the history of the blog starting from the times of the passage of the HITECH Act, along with the continued growth of my teaching and use of Twitter. I noted over 2600 people having completing the 10x10 course and my surpassing 2600 followers on Twitter. Now at the end of 2022, 10x10 has exceeded 3100 people completing the course and my Twitter followers number over 3500. Of course, with the recent acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk, the future of this platform is uncertain. That is unfortunate, since I find activities like #ScienceTwitter and #MedTwitter very helpful for keeping up with new advances, some of which informs my teaching.

The day of that 2019 year-end post was the day that the first case of SARS-CoV2 infection was documented in China. Within a month cases started appearing in the US, and by March, the general US lockdown began, with the transition to remote work. While we have made great progress in treatments and vaccinations for COVID-19, my work is still mostly remote. In reality, this is an extension of pre-pandemic times, when I even noted then that my work was mostly asynchronous. And it is not hard to see how it will likely continue mostly that way, as there are plenty of advantages to my office commute being the walk down the stairs to my home office in my basement. I also enjoy being able to do my daily exercise (running or gym) in the late morning, followed by a healthy lunch, and then some quiet meditation after lunch before getting back to work. In the early days of pandemic, the Internet was highly overtaxed in my neighborhood of many professionals working from home, but the infrastructure has been built up such that my current home Internet is well up to the task.

Back to this year, it was a good year for my professional and personal life. I made the decision to hand off the leadership of the department I have served as the one and only Chair. The Dean of the OHSU School of Medicine will make an announcement of the appointment of a new Interim Chair next week. As noted in my kudos posting from last week, my research and teaching work was highly productive in 2022, and the activities and grant funding will keep it going for at least several more years. I aim to keep working focused on research, teaching, mentoring, and writing, and have no plans to retire any time soon. I will also maintain this blog, which with this posting now has 375 postings.

As for the future, COVID-19 will continue to impact all of what we do. But there is less fear to have now, as we understand the virus and the disease it causes much better, and we have means to blunt the worst of its effects. Many quip that I have an optimistic view of the world and future, and I am certain this will continue in 2023 including and beyond COVID-19.

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