We are handing over our blog to women working in the health and medical research field so they can share their personal and professional stories with us. This is a way to get to know other Franklin Women, learn about different health and medical research related careers (not just academia!) and promote the great contributions women make to the health and medical research field every single day! We will also use our blog as a way to share with you other important tit-bits as they come our way.
To see posts made by each of the authors, click on their name from the list to the left.
Hi Franklin Women! I am Yosephine, a new member of FW. Unlike with other FW’s blog, I would like to share a rather different story - my personal story of transitioning from a job in industry back to academia!
Part 1 - Multiple pathways lead to a successful career. I finished my PhD in protein engineering in 2010. I was working on improving the desired property of enzymes so that they could be useful for industrial applications, ranging from pharmaceuticals to bioremediation. I had always thought that I was not suited for a traditional academic career as I preferred doing applied rather than basic research. I was lucky enough that my main PhD project was applied however I also had side projects that were more around deepening basic knowledge. When an opportunity to work in industry came by after finishing my PhD (a former colleague who went to industry following her post-doc offered me a position in her company) I knew I had to take up my dream job as Product Development Manager. My key responsibilities in this role were to develop ideas and new formulations for product launches, to prepare and present the concepts/product prototypes to customers, to generate preliminary costs for new products and reformulations and to maintain knowledge on regulation issues and competitor business. In addition, I had to monitor efficient working of all projects and ensure compliance to project plan/timeframe and allocate appropriate resources for project and prioritise them. Phew...a lot!
I was initially satisfied with the work however after spending 1.5 years in industry I felt there was something missing in my career. Instead of applying for similar jobs in another company I re-entered academia by taking up a post-doctoral research position at The University of Queensland (UQ). To my own surprise, despite the pressure of having to publish and obtain grants, I now enjoy the privilege of doing research that I am passionate about (learning from the nature on the best ways of engineering enzymes, for example by resurrecting ancient proteins to create robust enzymes!). Unlike being tied to the rigid corporate structure, working in an university environment offers you appealing aspects that the job can offer - freedom (you can write, develop and even apply funds to support your own ideas/ passion) and working with students (which could be fun but also stressful which leads me to Part 2 of this post...) More...
Good systematic reviewers are highly sought after. My boss claims in the last 20 years (since systematic review really kicked off) he has never known a systematic reviewer not to be in demand. I was lucky to stumble across the job ad and subsequently get the position I am in. I honestly had no idea what I was really applying for. My company made a decision to recruit graduates so the ad was targeted to the skills they were looking for – the list matched my skills so I applied. Having held the role for three and a half years I am now involved in recruitment of new trainees and fully appreciate More...
You may have heard of or even read a systematic review however you may not be familiar with the ins and outs of the process. There is a great synopsis published by the ‘What is…?’ series which I recommend for some more details. In short, it is myresponsibility to identify all relevant literature pertaining to a particular research question so that a non-biased assessment can be made. In theory, you can design a research question to answer any question (a personal favourite: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials assessing how effective parachutes are at preventing death!). In my role I most frequently answer clinical questions so would be looking to identify all clinical trials relating to a question. However, other common reviews include identification of evidence related to cost-effectiveness, health related quality of life and epidemiology. A systematic review can be broken down into the following steps: defining the research More...
If you have spent any time in the twittersphere lately you may have come across the NatureJobs social media campaign #ScientistOnTheMove. The aim of this campaign is to demonstrate and promote the mobility of science i.e. the different jobs out there for those with traditional science training. Talking about the different careers outside of academia that value the skills acquired through science PhD training is something I am very passionate about. It was actually one of the main inspirations for Franklin Women. Hence, when I came across the shout out from Nature on twitter for scientists who have made a move from academia, I put my hand up! In their latest blog post NatureJobs showcased 4 researchers who have transitioned into non-academic roles (but still in science), and I am one of them (hoorah!). You can read the post here. They also put together a storify where you can see all the tweets using the ScientistOnTheMove hashtag to follow the conversation.
The NatureJobs blog gives you a snap shot of each of these researchers and their career moves but I thought some might be interested in the nitty gritties. So below I have copied my full responses to NatureJobs that go into where I started, where I am now, and all the factors that contributed to what happened in between. Although it was extremely hard at the time, I am now proud of my achievements since leaving academia and hope others might relate to my personal journey (though acknowledge many are on a completely different journey, and won't).
I am Juliette. I graduated in 2010 with a BSc in Microbiology from the University of East Anglia (UEA, UK). In between the parties, the contact hours would be recognisable to any biology graduate; lectures, seminars and lab work. My dissertation included a 10 week lab placement and write up attempting to determine one of the pathways associated with vancomycin resistance. I also took the opportunity to conduct 10 week lab placement during a summer holiday looking at the influence of various substances on muscle degeneration.
I enjoyed my three years at UEA greatly and left with three aims: (1) to never work in a lab, (2) to find a job where I could use my degree and (3) go travelling. After spending most of my life in education travelling was a high priority so done and dusted first. A year after graduating I started the job More...
If you are in the field of genetic research in Australia then you are no doubt aware of the Lorne Genome Conference held annually in Lorne, Victoria. Registrations for the 2015 meeting are now open, as are applications for numerous awards offered as part of the conference. These include the usual Travel, Student and ECR awards. However, this year they have launched a new award to acknowledge a women researcher within 10 years of PhD (full-time equivalent) who is excelling in the field of genome organisation and expression (and there is a $1000 prize!). The Lorne Genome Conference Women in Science Award will be awarded at next years conference in February.
It offers a wonderful opportunity to promote the excellent research done in this area by many female scientists. The financial prize will also be useful to assist in carrying out research or to attend a conference. At Franklin Women we are all about celebrating the wonderful contributions made by women in health and medical research and encouraging women to put themselves out there for the accolades they deserve - so what are you waiting for, get going on that application!!..
They close soon on 31st October. All the information can be found on the conference website and it has also been added to the list of resources in the members area of the FW website.
Good luck! FW
You totally should. Here are some things to think about before you do.
How do you become a medical writer?
There aren’t any specific courses or qualifications you need to do to become a medical writer. You just need to be able to write, have a medical or scientific background and a desire to spend hours staring at a screen, rather than down a microscope.
However, I would definitely recommend doing some kind of professional writing course. I did a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing at TAFE. I thought I could write pretty well before I started it, but what the course first taught me was that actually, no, I couldn’t. Professional, technical writing is a skill like any other that can be practised and developed. Believe me when I tell you that you have to be taught it. You might also find it helpful to learn or refresh your grammar and punctuation skills. More...
There’s something to be said for having a nice, defined profession or vocation. When I used to work in the lab, I could answer the question, ‘So, what do you do?’ with ‘scientist’. It’s a nice, easy label. Most people know vaguely what a ‘scientist’ does, and they might even think you sound interesting. However, since I gave up the pipette for the pen, whenever I get asked the inevitable question regarding occupation, I find myself hesitating. The conversation then usually runs like this: More...
Thank you to FW friend Melissa Burke who, after reading Melina’s blog posts on transitioning from academia to health policy, sent us links to two opportunities in healthy policy which may be of interest to FW members.
- The NSW Public Health Officer Training Program: This is a NSW program which runs for three years and is specifically for individuals who have completed postgraduate studies in public health. Over the three-year program trainees gain experience in different areas of public health within NSW Health (from health promotion to outbreak responses and data analysis). New intakes into the program happen once a year so keep an eye out on the website. Our very own FW member Dr Jane Jelfs joined the NSW Public Health Officer Training Program last year. If you have any questions for Jane. contact her through members connect in the members area of our website.
- Harkness Fellowships in Health Care Policy and Practice: This Fellowship is offered through The Commonwealth Fund and is open to mid-career health service researchers in a number of countries including Australia. Successful applications spend up to a year in the United States working with leading health policy experts. Unfortunately, applications for Australia and New Zealand applicants for 2015 - 2016 just closed but you can still find more information and application requirements, here.
We are yet to come across any initiatives that particularly support scientists gaining experience in health policy roles, such as programs that exist overseas. If you ever come across resources that you think would be of interest to FW members please email them through to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are all about sharing oppourtunities…..