PhD Clinical Careers

Slides from “PhD Careers in a Clinical Setting”

Invited Speaker on March 8, 2007:

Cynthia Morton, Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology and Professor of Pathology, Harvard Medical School; Editor of The American Journal of Human Genetics.

A PhD in a Clinical Setting

  • Two member boards of the ABMS certify PhDs: Radiology and Medical Genetics
  • ABMG: 2 yrs of fellowship training in an accredited program leading to certification in Clinical Biochemical Genetics, Clinical Cytogenetics and Clinical Molecular Genetics
  • More regular hours but less flexible, and depends upon the expectations of the institution (academic vs. less academic)
  • Commercial company jobs are also available
  • Salary: expect more in a company than in an academic setting, but comes with less freedom
  • The clinical environment is still a “turf” issue with MD’s

Guidelines to Success in Academia

  • Be happy, enthusiastic.
  • Act happy, not tired or overworked.
  • Don’t ask for much.
  • Collaborate.
  • Develop a focus of expertise.
  • Write.
  • Don’t over-rely on teaching.
  • Don’t ever say: “I have not time” or “I’m working too hard.”
  • Protect yourself from very low yield activities: routine meetings, unneeded paperwork, conferences.
  • Be zealous about your field.
  • Bring in money to pay part of your salary.
  • Develop a community following.
  • See your boss regularly: not to complain, not to ask for things, provide answers rather than problems.
  • Acquire and nurture a mentor.
  • All teaching should be high quality; never consider any audience unimportant.
  • Don’t burn bridges; leave gracefully.
  • Be alert to “turf” issues; foresee problems.
  • Keep in mind the big picture.
  • Nurture your national relationships.

Especially for Women:

  • There’s GOOD News and Hard News!!

The GOOD News

  • A career as a scientist is a privileged life.
  • Your brain will be happy, and you will be happy.
  • Your family will be happy because you are happy.
  • You will have a life with freedoms others don’t have in the workplace—freedom to think and explore the unknown and a flexible schedule.
  • You will have worldwide friendships and opportunities to travel.
  • You can have your cake and eat it too!

The Hard News

  • Most male scientists have wives who work less than full time.
  • Progress in science will not wait for you.
  • Maternity leave is not a vacation.
  • You can’t have it both ways.
  • NIH Study Sections do not care whether the applicant is a female, was on maternity leave or had a disproportionate number of female students/post-docs who took maternity leave or left the lab following the birth of a child.

Some Advice

  • Buy whatever services you can afford to make your life easier: cleaning service, prepared meals, babysitting…
  • Don’t make it harder for other women.
  • Accept that part-time is not possible.
  • Find a partner who respects and appreciates your need for fulfillment outside of the home.
  • Read “I Don’t Know How She Does It” by Allison Pearson.
  • Sleep in eternity….