Tag Archive for: Ben Davies


Get Angry People

Hello colleagues. You look stressed. Your blood shot eyes have little golden crusty particles stuck in them. Oy. And your face has taken on a sickly grey hue. Have you missed me my pasty, swollen friend? Of course not. You are too busy with EHR, surgery, robots, family, research, horse meat chatter, papal scandals, Twitter, Facebook  and emails. Relax my people! Have you not read any of the latest research on productivity?

It is clear – my hard working friend – that you are not resting enough. A multitude of bio-shrinko-sociologic studies have proven as much. Did you read Tony Schwartz’s New York Times essay entitled: “Relax, You will be more Productive”. In it we learn that you can only work effectively for 90 minute intervals. In fact there is a biologic basis for this assertion.  Borrowing from sleep cycle experts and psychologists who have studied successful athletes, musicians, and artists it is a biologic factoid that we can only concentrate in 90 minute packages. That is all you need to know. Start compressing your operative cases to 90 minutes! Never mind that 90 minutes would only incorporate the bladder removal portion of your operation. We can do the nodes and reconstruction after my jog and light lunch of spinach tofu salad.

Want some more advice from the productivity experts? Of course you do. I am here to solve your problems today. Perhaps you have missed the latest and greatest TED talks on “The Art of Stress-Free Productivity”. Spend some time listening to this profound man – a Mr. Ted Allen. Find him here on YouTube. Let me paraphrase his advice: create a project list of everything that has a defined beginning and end in your life. Everything. Go ahead start writing it all down people. You need to look and update your lists every week. You need to sort, prioritize, collate, and make a master list that is all encompassing. You can not? Why? Because you are a surgeon and lead a life of uncertainty. Weak brother. Weak.

Fine. Let me suggest another tact: Get your pens out please. Read this essay by a famous oncologist Dr. Stephanie J. Lee entitled “Tips for Success As an Academic Clinical Investigator” published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology this past month. Ooh how the urotwitterati loved this essay. For days the reviews were glowing. And she does have some great words in this essay (chronophage is the best). To be clear there are 43 tips! Thankfully the last one is “Have fun!”. The others have a more pedantic and ridiculous tone – like “surround yourself with people of high standards, skills, work habits, and compatibility”. This amounts to making sure you work with eHarmony.com compatible co-workers – it’s a must for academic success but sadly impossible to implement. Other gems: “work many hours” (check!), “work efficiently” (uhhh I have residents), “think deeply and clearly”, “make a to-do list”, and “study others you admire”. The productivity list reads like a moral sermon from a high school teacher only less helpful.

Have I depressed you enough? I hope not. I want you angry. Very angy. Why? You must not have read the article by Nakamura et al “Prognostic Value of Depression, Anxiety, and Anger in Hospitalized CAD Patients for Predicting Adverse Cardiac Outcomes” in this week’s American Journal of Cardiology. You see anger my obese, stressed-out urology friend PREVENTS adverse cardiovascular outcomes (hazard ratio 0.34, p <0.01). So perk up my friends! Get angry – it’s good for you.

Benjamin Davies is Assistant Professor of Urology at the University of Pittsburgh; Program Director, Urologic Oncology Fellowship and Chief, Division of Urology Shadyside Hospital. His views are his own. @daviesbj


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No Heat in the Desert

I am blogging again my friends. Blogging is freedom in the 21st Century; the modern equivalent of standing on a soapbox in Speakers’ Corner in London. Still, only old people write formal blogs now, young people microblog. They use Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, or Instagram. Blogging is no more modern than an open radical prostatectomy is sexy; actually its old-fashioned and beneath me. Still, I like it. And more importantly, it gives me an easy outpost to write about urology in an informal manner. So off we go – I am going to give blogging its sexy back.

For the past 20 years, my department at the University of Pittsburgh has sponsored and developed a course to aid board-eligible urologists tackle the oral urology boards (or part 2). We locate the course in Scottsdale, Arizona in Maricopa County. Maricopa county was recently in the news for having a controversial sheriff cited by the Department of Justice for engaging in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing” and had “a chronic culture of disregard for basic legal and constitutional obligations.” I use this to scare the candidates into submission. If they misbehave I simply release them into the streets and lock the hotel door. Good luck out there!




I have been the supreme leader – or king as my followers call me – of the course for the past 3 years. The onus is on me to develop, curate, prod, shape, and refine the protocols for the exam. Naturally, I do a great job. This year we had an active hashtag following the course #GUMOCK13.

The urotwitterati were in heavy attendance from Dr. Loeb (@LoebStacy) gracing us with her fashionista presence, and the braintrust of Drs. Morgan and Kutikov (@wandering_gu and @uretericbud) were also there. Even my colleague Dr. Averch (@tdave) made a good twitter presence (a breakthrough). The break dancing and karaoke crooner Prof. Cooperberg (@cooperberg_ucsf) also had a defining presence.

The highlight for me was the profound talk from our guest motivational speaker Wayne Sotile. Just calling yourself a motivational speaker makes me yearn for a shotgun. As a non-believer I was thoroughly entertained and – more importantly – actually learned a great deal about the work/family balance. Some highlights with (tongue-in-cheek) twitter reactions as hyperlinks:

  1. It is not the absolute hours you work that impacts your family life it’s the mood you bring home with you. Tweets here….
  2. We work in a high-demand and low-control environment – that is the ultimate stressful situation. Tweets herehere
  3. Levels of intimacy plummet until the 10 year mark in your marriage then they increase markedly. Tweets….here

The course ended with overall good reviews. The candidates appeared well-prepared, fine young doctors and I was impressed. Still – with a fail rate hovering at 11% the stress levels are high for these physicians. It did not help that the hotel seemed unable to provide the comfort we all desire after working all day and drinking all night – a hot shower. Over 50% of the attending participants had to contend with a cold or tepid shower because of a failed water pump that the hotel scampered to fix. I didn’t mind the dishevelled hippie hair look and – luckily – it appeared to keep the Sheriff’s department at bay.



Benjamin Davies is Assistant Professor of Urology at the University of Pittsburgh; Program Director, Urologic Oncology Fellowship and Chief, Division of Urology Shadyside Hospital. His views are his own. @daviesbj


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The self-proclaimed King of the Urology twitter world

Howard Stern proclaimed himself the King of all Media; I have proclaimed myself the King of the Urology twitter world.  There is no basis for my claim.  I certainly do not have the most followers nor do I have regal heritage. If you repeat things often enough they simply become true on the web – so I’m happy to be the king

What is true is that I was the first academic urologist to take to the twitterverse in a persistent, snarky, timely, and – at times- academic manner. I coached the uro-twitterati including Declan (@declangmurphy), Quoc (@qdtrinh),  Alex (@uretericbud), Coops (@cooperberg_ucsf), Tony F (@urooncmd) , Mike L (@_TheUrologist_), and Henry Woo ( @DrHWoo). And I am proud of them.

Many of my most compelling tweets have been published in real news outlets (like on NPR and the Washington Post blog) and even a real article grew from it in Nature Urology. The biotech twitterverse (see Adam Feuerstein) has there hooks in me as well and I have had several consulting jobs as a result.

Like any father I have problems with my kids. They dont listen to my sage advice and they should. To tweet is not to be boring. It is not to be glib and tidy (Hi mom!). That is why we have Facebook. You have several style options for your tweets in the twitterverse and here are a few:

Academic tweets: Boring. These people add pithy tag lines to an interesting article (good example is @drMEisenberg). I have no problem with this approach. It makes for a safe environment and there is no question you have to be safe with your remarks (which I occasionally am not). It is a purely an informational tweet.

Snarky and academic: This is the province of Matt Cooperberg and I. I am vastly more funny. He is what I would describe as almost funny. The strategy is simple – find an article in urology or medicine in general and add a funny comment.  They become strangely profound if done right. Good examples are here ….. or here

Mash-up Tweets: This is hard and rare. It is basically the ability to makes a tweet about a timely topic (could be breaking news) and tie it to something else that is urologic or some other breaking news. Sounds hard? It is. This is an advanced twitter move. My best tweets (judged by RTs) were mashups. Remember my best tweets are actually not available after some time since twitter archives your tweets for a limited time. Here is one ok example

Academic Modified Tweets and/or Snarky Academic Modified tweets:  Modified tweets are taking a tweet and changing it to either to it make shorter or to completely change it to make a funny and/or compelling point. I’m better at funny. This is hard. These are by far my favorite form of tweets. Good one here

Odd ball tweet: I also love just saying something funny totally out of context. Remember do not be boring. This has been championed by @robdelany who is champion tweeter and raunchy comedian. Not everyone likes him but his a great odd ball tweeter. Here is my attempt. It is ok.
There is a lot to teach my people.  Follow good tweeters. Do not tell us about your heartburn, gas, or inlaws (unless its a mashup!). Do not talk to your friends about something silly. Do not add silly hashtags to seem funny. They are never funny. Never. Repeat that over and over until you stop doing it. I will blog frequently about urologic twitter topics now that I am the Senior Consultant and Highly Paid Advisor for Social Media for BJUI. This of course is false but if you keep repeating it…


Benjamin Davies is Assistant Professor of Urology at the University of Pittsburgh; Program Director, Urologic Oncology Fellowship and Chief, Division of Urology Shadyside Hospital. His views are his own. @daviesbj


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