i’ve been working out my applications for doctoral programs as of late,
crossing off all the little ticks:
pre-apply. identify programs of interest
1. complete online app
2. acquire both official and unofficial transcripts
3. write many versions of personal statement
4. appeal to current professors for ‘the right fit’
5. connect with writers of recommendations
6. study for GRE
7. take GRE
there are multiple tiers within each step, but i’m posting today to talk about number four.
i’ve emailed several professors in programs like personality and health psychology, disability studies, community psychology, and heath research and outcomes. i’ve done this without much success.
most profs respond a ‘apply, but i don’t do diabetes work.’
i understand this response. good parts and not so good parts in there. the first part generally means, ‘you’re qualified enough for us to look at you.’ the second part equates to, ‘i’m not who you want to work with because i can’t help guide your work in the area with which you wish to concentrate.’
thats the first part. fine and dandy. not great, but not a total let down. i can work around that. right? i can use my words to make what i want to do fit with what they want to do. i can work it out. perhaps some compromise is in order, but i got that, no problem.
the second part of some emails i’ve been receiving is the part that concerns me, the part that draws worry lines on my face like war paint…
it is the part where they challenge my ability to be objective in an area that is clearly so close to me.
verbatim, from professor x ( not THE professor x ):
“It is not always advisable to study a topic with which you have a close personal involvement. Again, it is about scientific objectivity here and not advocacy or clinical work.”
i had three reactions to this. first, a sigh and a, ‘maybe he’s right.’ second, a wait a minute, this is exactly what i have been learning to argue against. the third is to follow.
if medx taught me anything, it’s that patients need to yell to be heard.
we have to fight our way into the design of studies because often researchers simply aren’t asking the questions we want answered. researchers are missing the mark because they are too far removed from the people who live with the diseases they are studying.
i am a patient and maybe as a result my objectivity will be slightly skewed. maybe.
i am a patient and i have the insights to ask the right questions; the questions that will directly impact the non-profits, government programs, and people living with diabetes.
i am the one.
my last and final response, i beg the question…
dear professor x:
kindly, mr. i ask that if you are performing research that is not meant to translate into any kind of clinical or advocacy work, what is it meant to do?
i am the one.
i am the patient researcher turning papers into programs.
Go get ’em, Heather.
BOOM. You go, Heather. This is awesome. :]
If anybody is meant to work in improving clinical outcomes… clearly, it’s a patient who aims to understand the scientific process behind those outcomes, and help improve things.
Or… at least it SHOULD be. Keep it up!
You rock so hard. Get ’em!
“It is not always advisable” because it is not always easy. I wouldn’t advise somebody to try to swim across the English Channel, or to create a football league to compete with the NFL, or to fix the woes of the New York City Transit Authority. But if you think you can do it, by all means go for it — I’ll support you one-hundred percent.
As I read this, I think back to having a long heart-to-heart in the bar at FFL. And I know you can do anything you set your mind to. And I know that if it was too easy, it wouldn’t be worth fighting for. I am so proud of you. Go get ’em!!
Also: Not only am I proud of you, i’m inspired by you.