Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Deus ex Machina?

Today was a Monday like no other.

I woke up in a very annoyed mood and had a slight headache for half the day. I was not expecting good things to result from this day. Typical Monday, haha.

Then I got an email from the coordinator who coordinates volunteer musicians at the hospitals. SR-F (on violin), CB-F (on viola), and I (on cello) had intended to volunteer some of our time once a week or so to play in the hospital lobby for waiting patients and their families. What we didn't realize is the insane hoops they were going to have us jump through. We had to through the department that dealt with scheduling the musicians, then the department that handles the hospital volunteers. We had to fill out a 10-page volunteer form and have documentation of our MMR vaccination, a negative TB test, 2 reference checks, and a criminal background check. And for the last week I've been trying to coordinate things between 3 contact people. Not fun.

Last night, SR-F, CB-F, and I convened at the local bubble tea place (haha) and decided to abort the whole endeavor. It was way too much effort for us to go through since we're only going to be able to volunteer for 2 months, but for CB-F only a couple more weeks. Anyway, today, the coordinator emails me and basically tells me that we no longer had to go through any of the hoops. We more or less just have to show up, sign in, and play. Now at this point I hadn't told her we were deciding not to play, and I would've felt really bad had I sent that email after hers. So we decided that, now that our biggest obstacle had been removed, to give this a shot again.

I also went into research today, not knowing what to do or how to proceed. Just as I was finishing, the PI (principal investigator - head of the lab) comes by and asks to talk to me. We sit and talk (she is SO nice).

It began with her asking me what my "long-term career goals" were. I was caught off-guard a little, so I said I wasn't too sure since I had only sampled a limited amount of the vastness that is medicine and public health. But I told her of my current interests in endocrinology, diabetes, and hospital-acquired infections. I also told her about my acceptance into public health and what that might entail.

She then said that she just wanted to do what was best for me and my career. At this point I was like "Crap! I'm not going to get paid!" But then she brought up several points. She mentioned how she felt "We had done wrong by you" in the lab as they "neglected" my research. My research requires a very experienced person to work with me for it to work if there are problems (and currently, there are lots of problems). She didn't want me to leave the lab frustrated and pissed off, and she didn't want me to do research because I felt guilty and "owed it to the lab" to have results (which I have almost none).

So she proposed 2 things. She would help me find a physician mentor to doctor shadow, and she agreed to pay me for my time in the lab. Part of the stipulation of the latter is that I should probably work with other people to learn new techniques, since I have all the basics of my research mastered. So she wrote down a list of doctors that she knew and would contact on my behalf, at least for that first contact to "get my foot in the door."

In my mind my jaw dropped. These weren't "just any" doctors. These were head of their labs, or head of their departments. They are distinguished. Their names are recognized in their fields. And I would be directly under them for the next month and a half. They ranged from endocrinology to pediatric endocrinology to cancer, etc. And that she would personally email them and give them a direct recommendation on my behalf was just wow. I had been having trouble contacting doctors to shadow for the past half week (since doctors don't answer emails much, understandably since they're so busy).

Yeah, so that was my amazing day . . .
1.) Hospital volunteering doesn't seem quite so difficult to do now.
2.) I'm going to get paid for my time in the lab! (about 15 hours/week).
3.) My PI is going to help me secure a doctor shadowing!

When I finished for the day, I just couldn't believe my luck. Such things so rarely happens for me.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Sounds like a good thing all around!