I’ve been thinking about starting a blog – a blog about being a clinician academic – for some time. I’ve had the idea, and I know what I want from this blog. But what should be in the very first post?!?
Should it be about the geeking we do? How I pull my hair out for slower-than-snail progress in changing the world? A minute-by-minute description of submitting a journal article? Maybe another time.
I’ve also got a very strict sense of privacy so I worry about tarnishing including anyone in my posts. How do I tell a story if I can’t mention anyone (I am already feeling this criterion will have to be relaxed….).
[2hrs later, I’m still stuck]
I keep coming back to the same point: Great People. Let me talk you through…
To me, most of a clinician academic life is inside my head – only a little of it is observable from the outside. A lot of it can be quite hard. By hard I don’t mean the thinking (to me hard thinking is the best bit!) or feelings of threat that robust academic discussions can arouse (once you learn to embrace rather than fear critique then debates become great fun!). By hard I mean feeling (being treated as?) different. Different from the full-time clinicians who make up the majority.
Over the years, my full-time clinician peers have told me I have a bigger brain than anyone they know (I keep wondering how do they get this data?). Some have been surprised to learn I have a PhD – apparently they did not think people with PhDs can hold a normal conversation (I do feel my conversational interests are changing – it’s possible the effects are delayed). I still remember, on the final year of my PhD, when I did The Great Confession – admitted to my psychologist supervisor how much I liked research. I vividly remember the deep sense of professional betrayal for saying it (I did begin to laugh when she asked me with curiosity why did I look so sheepish for saying it).
Over the years I have grown to relish my outsider identity. I now appreciate how big of an advantage it actually is (more about that another time) , and I like it that in some sense I get to be different. However, it’s still hugely enjoyable to connect with people.
Today was a particularly brilliant day of connecting. I had a morning catch-up with an AHP clinician academic professor, talking about the things we do to support clinicians to get into research. I had a quick phone chat with one of the brilliant senior clinicians I’m currently supporting to prepare a PhD application. It feels a big priviledge to see other people’s clinician academic journeys, and supporting others also mentally re-connects me with the great people who have supported me over the years. It’s both deeply humbling and satisfying to be ‘inside’ a network of generous support. I then had a skype meeting with two very funny, high calibre clinician academic peers. We are geographically apart and work with different populations, but we have a strong shared agenda. Finally, I finished the day drinking coffee and discussing interesting things with two very good colleagues – we sat outdoors, in the sun.
Most of my days are not like today, but I do see more and more AHP and nurse colleagues getting involved in research. I am confident we will see the day when being a clinician academic is no longer treated as weird. [Not sure what I will do then – I’m so attached to my identity now!]