Thursday my boss sprung a little talk on me, asking me to present at the departmental meeting this morning. I did, talking about my current projects for about 20 minutes, and outlining how simulation works for some of the new staff who hadn’t seen it before. It was fun. And decent practice thinking on my feet, considering I’m giving a couple of important (to me) lectures this month, one to MECMC’s senior leadership and one on the web about the research I was doing prior to moving here. I’m excited about both. I’m trying to build something here, and buy-in from senior leadership will make it far likelier that I succeed. And lecturing for my old work will help get my name out there as a potential collaborator.
A couple of times recently, and today explicitly in front of the department, my boss said that he wants to basically have me set up my own sub-department. If I were a professor, at a university, instead of a hard-money quality improvement asset/researcher, this would be like a lab. Here, we’d probably call it something else. Even though MECMC is a major teaching hospital, I’m not faculty, and my department isn’t an academic department. We’re still figuring out exactly how to fit me into the framework.
It’s peculiar. I’m not faculty. But I am an academic. I don’t need to support myself. But I want to write grants. I am trying to figure out how to behave like faculty while being paid like hospital staff. When I talk about hard/soft money, my department doesn’t even know what I mean. They’re all hard money, and unfamiliar with the concept of soft. I’m not really judged on my ability to produce academically. Papers and grants are a bonus, not a requirement. I’m here to improve my own hospital. And that’s my goal, too. but I care a lot about getting the work out there and published so that other people can use and improve upon what we do here.
Our associate chief of surgery and my boss (who isn’t too highly placed) are both on the record as saying that they need to get me more assets so that I can have a larger footprint on the organization. They recognize that there’s too much for me to do on my own, and they’d like me to be able to make regular and lasting impacts on the systems we rely on to treat patients. It’s exciting. I’m envisioning a semi-research, semi-quality improvement type structure, where we get buy-in from the medical practices, they might combine to support a statistician, my department hires an associate-developer for me, and then get post-docs and other staff from grant money (you know, cause that’s pretty easy to get…).
I get scared about my long-term prospects and my life and plans. But the fact is, I couldn’t possibly be in a better position. I’m very excited. And now I need to go write my damned lectures or I’m going to be in real trouble.