PhD career shift

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PhD career shift

Postby Sarah » Sun Dec 19, 2004 3:53 pm

I am currently in my 2nd year of a basic science doctorate program. The next stage is the 'nuts and bolts'- the dissertation - coursework is essentially done. If I know that I do not want to stay in the lab, and am considering working more for policy, and advocating science to the public and to perhaps government, is the basic science PhD necessary? I'm looking into a DrPH (doctorate of Public health) degree to compliment my BS in Nutrition, and MS in Exercise physiology instead. Would being coined a "basic scientist" truly be most beneficial?

Thank you for your time,

PhD career shift

Postby Eric » Sat Jan 01, 2005 1:02 pm

If you can finish your PhD in a reasonable amount of time, I would focus on that and complete the basic science PhD. I've found in the job hunt process that people who start one educational program and then quit and do something else are viewed more negatively than those who seem to be more focused on their career objectives. It's not fair, but career-switchers, career risk-takers, overly creative people who follow their dreams are often viewed more suspiciously by employers.
Employers like a sense of safety, security, stability and decisiveness to emanate from prospective employees, even at the expense of turning down more innovative people who don't have their lives fully mapped out.

Your basic science PhD will qualify you for your science policy career; I'm not convinced a DPH would make you any more qualified. You might even consider getting a MPH instead, after getting your basic sciend PhD.

PhD career shift

Postby Eric » Sat Jan 01, 2005 2:42 pm


You definitely need to be contacting people who are working in the science policy field that you are interested in. If you have not done so, consider looking into whether your college career office maintains a database of alumni who are willing to talk to people interested in the field they are working in. I've found good career advice this way.

Good Luck

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