Now the terror begins. In fact, I have a bone to pick with the twitter science community. Prior to joining twitter and learning all of the things that go into a good academic job-talk, I was too stupid to be afraid. I just went out there, gave my talks, and was given positions. I was like five for six. I talked to people, showed them what I can do, and they offered me jobs or graduate fellowships or consulting gigs. It wasn’t until after talking to twitter and learning that I was supposed to stress and panic about these things that I started stressing and panicking about these things. Of course, they’ve also cranked my game up to a whole new level. Because before, I was given all this stuff on potential. Now, I need to base it on results.
So. Here’s the deal. Prestigious East Coast Medical Center (PECMC) is flying me out next Wednesday the 28th for a 5-hour-long set of interviews, including an hour-long scheduled presentation by me. The Job Talk. As usual, over on the Tenure Track Job Search Advice Aggregator, Doc Becca has linked to many people writing about how to give a good academic talk. I’ll be scrutinizing it carefully. But this is not a Tenure Track job talk. It’s a position that the interview agenda calls “Improvement Specialist: Discrete Event Simulation Developer”. Which is good, because that’s what I do when I do direct, field-work-style engineering.
But it also means that the TT job talk advice may not apply directly to me. They will be less interested in how I am planning to develop any research aims or pursuing extra-mural funding. In fact, they may never want me to submit another paper or grant. As for the former, that’s fine with me for the forseeable future. I’d be perfectly happy not to submit another grant for a decade, it feels like. Papers, on the other hand, are a near deal-breaker. I want to be able to continue to write manuscripts and contribute to the literature as well as to my local hospital.
Because they matter to me in terms of how I think of myself now. I am a professional science-engineer. One of the things that has become a part of my identity in the past four years is that I do research, and contribute to the public record of health care engineering, and medical science. I want to be able to continue to do that. I want to build a bibliography I can be proud of. I want to leave something behind that people in my field will consider to have been a meaningful contribution. So, not simply the contribution to a particular medical center, but to the science of health care delivery and health care engineering.
So. PECMC has invited me out to meet their patient quality and safety team. This is precisely what I trained for as a graduate student, and what I was doing for the first two years of my job here. But then the administration changed and I was shifted over to research. I like research. I don’t like spending all my time chasing funding for a soft-money position. I want to have a job where the most important criterion for whether I stay employed is how good I am at my job. This seems like that sort of a position. When I spoke to them on the phone, I told them that this sort of work is also publishable in the quality and medical literature, and that I would like to be able to continue to publish. They seemed very receptive.
So now I find myself thinking about what I want from them. But they haven’t made me an offer yet. They have only asked me to come interview. I have to give a great job talk. And walk a line: direct impact on my local environment; improvement of patient quality and safety; publishable results; development of my own ambitions with respect to health delivery systems. Here’s what I’ve done. Here’s what I can do. Here’s what I’d like to do in the future. Get on my shoulders, and I’ll carry your hospital into the future.