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Giving Talks and Career Musings.

21 March 2017

I am giving two talks in the next two days. The first is a simple little talk on process engineering and publication of process engineering in healthcare. The second is about using computer simulation to generate policy and public health evidence. The first one is pretty easy and I’m not at all concerned about it. The second is sort of a job talk, and so I need it to be good.

I’m speaking at a public health policy center, an invited talk at a local ECC institution affiliated with MECMC and VFU. They have a professorship posted and I’ve applied for it. This talk isn’t officially a job talk because they haven’t decided on a list of interviewees yet. But I can pretty much guarantee that if I bomb, I won’t get invited to give a real one. I probably won’t anyway. The position is at the associate professor level, and while I might qualify in a technical sense, I wouldn’t be bringing any grant money.

I’d like to be able to do more research and intellectual work than I currently am. I’d like to be able to explore my abilities to build new tools and models and generate broad policy evidence and not just individual clinical improvement. I’ve done some really cool things at the clinical level, but I’m missing grappling with the bigger picture. I liked that when I did it.

My body of work is probably worthy of a tenured position, maybe, in a school of health policy that doesn’t expect a ton of external funding. But VFU and MECMC are major research institutions that don’t extend tenure to people without major grants. I’ve had several minor grants; even ones that probably sound big to non-academics (three in the $100,000 range). But nothing in the seven-figures that R1 universities and medical schools expect.

But I think I might have a different “in” in the event that I’m considered. While I’d like to broaden my horizons with regard to policy and public health, I don’t want to give up clinical engineering entirely. I’m going to propose (if I get the opportunity to) that I be hybridized. Half a professor of policy, half a program manager of clinical engineering. That way half my salary would remain covered by the hospital, not the academic institution. I’d be able to continue overseeing the work I currently do, and add research.

My current work is also a publication machine. In four years with MECMC I’ve published nine papers on clinical and administrative work. And another three on “my own time” on research policy. I could easily keep that up, and add a paper or two each year on policy simulation and public health.

So that’s the current fantasy. A half-time tenured professorship in the medschool, half-time manager in the hospital. Churning out papers that maybe, one day, help people get better healthcare. Will it happen? Almost certainly not. And it might even be a very bad idea to go looking for a professorship where I’d be expected to get funding right now when there is no funding right now and what there is is about to get slashed.

So who knows. It starts with writing a decent talk. After that, the tomorrows will take care of themselves.

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