Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why is my job an "alternative" career?

Wow, I have a lot to say about this, but well, let's just get started on the subject. I first heard about the job I have during an alternative career speaker series at Urban Med Center. I fell in love with the idea, and pointed my training in that direction for the most part, keeping all of my options open. E.G. I took a traditional post-doc, and boy am I glad I did. I probably wasn't ready for teaching right after my Ph.D. Ask, and I'll expound on that in further blogs.

I heard a 747 pilot say once that he was really just a bus driver. Of course we think being a 747 pilot is far more glamorous than being a bus driver, but functionally, they are somewhat the same. I feel the same way about being a teacher. Am I glamorized teacher with a more complicated job that requires more training? If I am in social situations that call for such humility, I do describe myself as a teacher and let them ask further to find out that I am a professor. But I really don't think of myself as a teacher primarily.

I think of myself as a scientist. So why I am I different "breed" of scientist than perhaps FSP, or anyone at an R01? Well, If I fail to get a grant, my technician doesn't lose his or her job (because I don't have a technician). But I still need to apply for grants. I don't sit on study section, so I will really only be on one end of the peer-review process. But I still need to publish peer-reviewed articles. I'm not finding the cure for cancer. Yes, but niether are you, R01ers (lighthearted fun poke. do not make nasty comments here). Yes, my research goes slower becuase my lab members can only spend 10 hours / week in the lab. And they are just learning. And I can't be in there with them all the time. But I still am doing original publishable research. The trick is I have to be even MORE clever to find research that undergrads can do (easy), in things that are interesting enough to publish, but not interesting enough for you R01ers to scoop me on. And it has to be cheap. I'll say that requires a special kind of intellect. Moreover, the time allotted for reading primary literature is seriously curtailed. But I still want to and do read papers.

more soon

1 comment:

  1. I'll bite - Why are you so glad to have done a traditional post-doc even when you knew you wanted the PUI career? Why weren't you ready to teach right out of your PhD?