Excitement and Apprehension.
Proving that there is nothing that can be so good that I can’t worry about it immediately, I now have a new raft of problems. My grant was funded! This is really just excellently, purely wonderful. As I wrote before, this is a small grant ($10K), internal funding from Very Fancy University. Now, MECMC isn’t, technically, affiliated with VFU. But all our physicians and surgeons are employed there, and our residents are trained there, and their med students rotate through our departments, etc.. Our research faculty have joint appointments there, and of course, I’d love for that to happen for me. I could partner with schools of medicine, business, or engineering to work on improving health care, with just a slightly different framing of my endeavors.
The grant falls under the large umbrella of “Implementation Science” which is essentially a topic of meta-study of how to get people in real world systems to adopt changes suggested by research or other analysis. It goes by various names, including “Translational Research” or may be described as “Bench-to-Bedside” work. I’ll be using (what else?) computer simulation to examine the space needs for one of MECMC’s cutting edge surgical services. Here’s the trick when you’re on hard money: write grants for stuff you were going to do anyway, that allow you to do it your way.
I’ll be using the grant in part to dump some money into my department’s coffers and make them happy. But also, I get to hire 200 hours of undergraduate student intern time, at $15/hr (well above the going rate for student interns of $0.). I will get to teach them how to simulate, and direct them on a project that will hopefully help them develop their careers as business/engineering students. And then, when we publish, they will be authors. Everybody wins. University, students, MECMC, me.
It’s exciting work, really. A cool project, an academic environment, I get to be all professory.
And of course, I am immediately nervous. My bosses have never, ever, had a funded investigator in the department before. They don’t know how it works. I don’t know what they’re expecting. Do they think they’ll be in charge of the money? Are they going to try to micromanage my grant? I doubt it, but I don’t know. And neither do they, because they’ve never been in the situation before. I need to be a team player, but I also need to assert myself if they try to railroad my grant expenditures.
But mostly that’s just worry. Every single boss-employee interaction I’ve had has been pleasant. They’re interested and dedicated to my development. I’ve had almost no push-back on my agenda. All in all, It’s been a 100% good experience. I have no reason to think it’ll change. And I have no reason to worry about tomorrow. I just do. So I need to remember to work my program in these circumstances too. I can’t control my bosses. I like my job. I like my job even if I never have funding at all. So I just need to relax. Take it day by day, and move forward. Life is good.
I will have had my new job for three months, tomorrow. Three months. And I am now a funded investigator at one of the finest medical centers in the country. How the hell did this happen?