Friday, February 19, 2010

Combining clinical work and basic research

Now I have finished my first week in the clinic. Nephrology paired with a day and a night in the ER. I have managed two brief meetings concerning research, and two evenings in the lab. Having thus prepared for a weekend in the lab, I can say that clinical work and laboratory research is compatible with each other. They are, however, not obviously compatible with life as we know it.

In many ways that goes for all serious hobbies. That is you have time for one serious hobby at the time. While doing full time research I had a fair amount of time to do photography, that involves reading books, looking at photographs, reading blogs, surfing for equipment, playing with photoshop, and occasionally photography. While studying it was ju-jutsu, which invloved rather more practice, but also a fair amount of reading and surfing forums (blogs weren't the thing at the time). Now my hobby is research, it involves quite a bit of reading, blog surfing, writing, some meetings, and occasionally lab work.

Luckily, most of my research at the moment is being run by centralized facilities at the university, which means I only have to prepare my samples and wait. I think analysis and writing is more easily compatible with clinical work, but that remains to be seen.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Post-Docs and the quest for the free upgrade

YoungFemaleScientist has published a very convincing summary of all that is bad with being a postdoc and why most arguments that it is good are wrong. Very concisely put.

But, I am going to have to do one anyway. What you can get away with sometimes is getting a position as an MD, which can count as tenure or tenure track to the funding agencies. Then you can apply directly for project funding, but otherwise you need a PI to hold your hand. What you can hope for is a good PI with the decency to give you a reasonable salary (or a PI in a richer country). A PI who won't have you run his whole lab, and who thinks your ideas are hot enough to let you run with them.

Then you create a small space in his lab shaped exactly like you, and re-create your post-doc into a junior PI position. Get your name on the grants, get to advice PhD-students (not just practically, but on paper), and then get converted to tenure track/tenure. From there you stand much stronger to apply elsewhere (or stay).

It's like a computer game, more specifically like The Starship Titanic, and you are out to get the free upgrade.

Good luck to us all,