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Returning to science after a long break

PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2016 2:10 pm
by VEH
Hi everyone,

I graduated with a first class degree in Physiology (with a focus on molecular/cell physiology) from King's College London in 2008. After spending approx 18 months as a medical writer working in the private sector (and becoming quite disgruntled by the side of the industry I was working in), I did a complete career U-turn and began working in the arts. Its now 6 years later and I wish to return to science.

I'm looking at either going back into pure science (particularly neuroscience) or going into science communication. As you can imagine, I now feel very outside the industry and I'm very aware that my scientific l knowledge and technical skill set have severely suffered in my time away from the field.

I'd like to ask for some advice on which route to take. I am aware that even taking a couple of years out can be a huge barrier, never mind 6. At the moment, even going into a Masters seems unrealistic (firstly being considered for a place and secondly coping with the course without my degree fresh in my mind). I'm not even sure what other options are open to me.

Any advice on this would be much appreciated.

Many thanks

Re: Returning to science after a long break

PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2016 7:47 am
by D.X.
My recommendation is look for lab Manager positions in academic labs that in the begining not have your involved on sciennce Projects.

The Focus there would then be purely operational, i.e. ordering, ensuring supplies are in stock, lab cleanliness/organi, avaiablity of Solutions, etc. then ask for involvement in projects to start re-building your technical and scientific Analysis skills.

I am sure your work in the arts had some organizational and managerial activities that you can port and talk to.

I would also recommend you take a sanity check Moment and do re-ask yourself if this is the path you want to take. You left this path for a reason and now looking to come back at what would be a begingers step (if you are able to secure a Job). Where would you plan to take that? PhD? etc. If you talk about scientific communications, what would in General take you back to a non-academic employer (be it freelance or employee) and you didn't like experience of a medical writer. Medical writing as a Job has not changed much since you left it 6 years ago but the industry has become in general a more intense, nimble and higher work loads, shorter time-lines with quick turn-arounds expected, with lower Budgets etc. So if those were some of the reasons just be Aware and its not just medical writing, its across the board to include Scientific Communcations functions within the industry (be it 3rd Party Service Provider or Inside).

Good luck with whatever you decide.


Re: Returning to science after a long break

PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2016 3:50 am
by VEH
Hi D.X,

Thanks for your advice. The reason I originally left was not because I don't enjoy medical writing, rather I was working in pharmaceuticals (marketing) and I morally objected to some of what was going on.

Ive always been more interested in the non-lab side of things, collating evidence, writing etc and do feel that I would be suited to communicating science / working within the media / even being involved in legislation / lobbying.

I'm not sure a PHD would be for me, but I am considering a masters either with the aim of specialising in a field (neuroscience) or focussing on the type of work I want to be doing (science communication). Do you think these would be open to me despite my break?

Thank you!

Re: Returning to science after a long break

PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2016 8:31 am
by D.X.

Often I'm the first not to advocate for additional education - however per your Situation it may be relevant to pursue targeted education.

Not sure if additional scientific education is relevant, rather it would be best I think to go for a professional developement degree be it in communications etc. And as always mentioned on this Forum, Networking. That will unlock more doors for you and help target your additional education efforts. Do some informational interviewing before taking a decision to invest in additional education, that way you can make a more targeted Investment with better outcomes.

I am curious what you didn't like about Marketing. Its where I sit now but I was in Med Aff before and may know a bit of what you're talking about (I've been the final signatory Medic).