Temporary Work in a Lab/Industry before School

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Temporary Work in a Lab/Industry before School

Postby Art K. » Tue Nov 29, 2016 1:37 am

Hi guys, I took the non-trad path (32 now) working as research assistant in the lab I was supposed to leave ~4 years ago to start MD or MD/PhD. Got stuck because work got delayed due to various lab issues, and so did the papers. Was too entrenched in research for my own good. I do have several publications, and am almost done with 2 more first authorship manuscripts and I want out from this lab (low pay, bad environment, and all the other usual stuff).

Since I don't have a good advisor and never had one, I wanted to give this forum a shot for some possible advice. I basically want to quit as soon as the papers are submitted and concentrate on my school applications. At the same time, even if I get in this year, I will have at least one year where I need to work and making extra money is going to be probably one of the more important goals. I have developed an expertise in neuroscience, but have also learned very advanced statistics (hierarchical models, SPSS, some SAS) where I've proven in certain instances to know more than the statisticians with MPH in our university. Maybe I'm nuts, but I love stats. So given the interest in medicine, skills in stats and neuroscience, and lack of formal training or certificates (only have BS), what would you recommend as a good next stepping stone before I proceed to graduate school? Would publications with aforementioned stats be sufficient to prove to potential employers my knowledge? Also, would you recommend that I pursue working in a new lab with a higher rank of r. associate (and much higher salary since I'm 30%+ underpaid according to my research) or should I just look for an industry position instead to acquire completely new set of experiences and go deeper into stats?

I am aware of ageism as well, so I know I'm running out of time. My main consolation is that I wasn't wasting my years just doing work, but gained enough skills to match a PhD, per one of my previous PIs. Of course, that hasn't been enough to gain sufficient recognition, at least in this lab. So I'm trying to tap into that a little before getting into school. I'm possibly skipping a dual degree to save time, unless I can arrange with the university to finish the PhD portion in under three years, upon admission.
Art K.
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2016 1:02 am

Re: Temporary Work in a Lab/Industry before School

Postby D.X. » Wed Nov 30, 2016 8:35 am

Hi Art,

Ok a bit of constructive criticism, but lets acknowledge, you're spending way too much time in a lab as a Research Assistent and overkilling it for entry to a PhD program which you could have done years ago without a publication. In your case, you now have a set of publications, why are you continuing to delay? You can apply to a PhD program today. Or yesterday for that matter.

Here's the issue, you're spending a tremendous amount of energy (actually, you already have) on getting publications as a Research Assistent when that is what you should be focused on as a PhD Student or Postdoc or Faculty. You're at the state of what's called "deminished Returns". Those publications you do now and delay for just won't Count in your PhD future. Just to be blunt. So why waste time, to be honest getting into a PhD lab is just not that hard, so Long you have a pulse and have some form of cognitive ability.

You acknowledge the ageism that's great and whereas there are many success stories of those who started thier PhD studies late in life, there are the realities of just exactly what those ops are and your Access to them later on. And I'm 40 right? already established in non-academic career and worried about ageism - even with good experience i'm at risk for being ...culled from the competitor's pool.

My recommendation: quickly knock it off with this quest for papers. YOu don't Need them and you will not get any benefit from them now or later.

Address why you want to do a PhD? what for? to get what? and by when? This is not clear to me. And MD PhD? Seriously? why? Choose one.

You mentioned you like statitics, if you're good, then look at industry and try to get in. Even government. You don't Need a phd and you can get a solid Job as a Trial or epedimiologic statician, good pay and career. Invest there.

So you've gained enough skills to match a PhD? so what? it wont' give you much recognition in the outside world - however - you're may be in a spot where non-PhD Level Jobs in industry Research can be very much accessible to you with good career Options (within the realm of non-PhD holders). My Point, enough skills to match a Phd..but without a PhD, its like People who've I recently understood put ABD after their Name (anything but Dissertation or something like that).

Not to be harsh, but I've known a few in your Situation, they reacted late and did experience challenges - they were not mentored well and unfortunately Held some mis-guided beliefs - they did go through thier Change Management issues and some rough Patchs but they all landed on solid ground - non did the PhD but many did stay in science related careers, i.e. teachers, sales, government scientists, industry scientists etc.

I hope you find your way and hope my Response serves to wake you up a bit?


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