How to stay sane as a clinical academic?

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It was a welcomed distraction from the research treadmill to reflect on my career at this Joint NERD-CiRN career event with the inspirational Prof Connie Weyand, the visiting Carnegie Professor from Stanford University School of Medicine.

She started with a stimulating talk about how her community and geography interacted and developed. More importantly, she talked about how demographics of her research landscape were changing, with data related to the projection that the US would become a majority-minority nation in the near future (i.e. when less than half of its population is non-Hispanic whites).

However, what I found the most helpful was the list of advices she regularly gave to her mentees. I would like to share them with you:

  • Appreciate your mentors: identify somebody who you aspire to be, and then “simply go up and ask if he/she would become your mentor”.
  • Communicate: speak to people about your ideas and concerns, don’t keen them to youself!
  • Get your degree (PhD/MD), stay healthy and don’t forget your family!
  • The 10,000 hours rule: although the rhetoric from the popular book Outliers: the Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell may not be always right, investing time to become expert in your field of research is very important.
  • Manage your time: find a way to make your time works for you.
  • Say no!
  • Stay curious and passionate: make use of the interactions you have, e.g. time that you are waiting at the centrifuge, and stay curious about research!
  • Be nice: the world is bad enough with all the negative experiments we do. There is always something nice to say, and somebody’s time behind that poorly written paper.
  • Seize opportunities: keep an open mind!
  • The power of being a generalist: the balance between being a super-specialist and a generalist could be crucial when it comes to finding your next job.
  • Avoid perfectionism: sounds obvious, but yet it was nice to have it spelt out loud!

I hope you find these pearls of wisdom useful too.

p.s. we are trying to get the slide set from this event and put a link on this site when we receive it. So watch this space!

NERD CiRN joint event

Career Morning with Carnegie Professor Connie Weyand was a joint NERD-CiRN Event. For more information about NERD, please go to their webpage.