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.
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 email@example.com. We are all about sharing oppourtunities…..
As I mentioned in my last blog, I was a medical research scientist in my previous life. After completing a science degree at UQ, the natural progression for me was to shuffle through the honours-PhD pathway (is there any other??). I didn't mind because I only liked science and I had no idea what else I would do anyway. To be honest, I didn't really even know what a PhD entailed when I started it. But nevertheless, thanks to a relatively successful honours project in a great lab, led by a supportive lab head, I decided to embark on a PhD researching novel vaccine strategies for group A streptococcus (a bacterium which causes a sore throat, but also some nasty invasive infections and post-infectious sequelae).
My PhD took four years to complete and I was very fortunate to have some wonderful highs (and some pretty crappy lows...why is biology so unpredictable?). The highs included being part of a team who's research had the potential for bigger picture public health impact. The scientific endeavour of wanting to understand how things work wasn't enough to keep me motivated, I needed a project that had wider applicability and mine did. Also, being based off-campus at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research made me feel less like a student and more part of the real word. I loved the people in our lab. Our work environment was fun, we worked hard but played a lot and my lab mates became extended family to me. I was also very lucky to receive some funding through the Cooperative Research Centre for Vaccine Technology and through them I was exposed to different opportunities such as their sabbatical program. As part of this program I took three months of out my PhD to gain experience in a science related job outside of academia. I took the opportunity to work at a local science communication company which gave me new skills, new connections and opened my eyes to other ways to make a contribution to the health and medical research field. I brought back with me a passion for science communication and health advocacy wanting to share with anyone and everyone the amazing stuff scientists do on a day-to-day basis.
I remained in my PhD lab for a year or so as a post-doc which took me to India for a month (where I ate my body weight in masala dosas). It wasn't long after when I stated to think seriously about what I was going to be when I grow up. I was faced with the decision, do I jump on the NHMRC grant bandwagon or do something else? It took a lot of soul searching for me to decide that I didn't want put in a grant (ever), even thought this made me feel like I was a failure scientist. What made it even harder was that I felt that all my peers were thinking the same thing about me. But I could see there is no way that all of us early career researchers could progress through the grant system and end up successful lab heads. That was just reality. While I loved the science and would have liked to try my hand at a academic research career, I felt I had other skills which I could combine with my science know-how in my next job. I thought that making the decision was the hard part, but next I had to find what that next job would be. I had my non-negotiable (it had to be in infectious diseases/immunisation) but otherwise I was keen to see what was out there. I put lots of feelers out and after 7 months of looking I was asked to Sydney for an interview at NCIRS and shortly after started there as a Research Officer (you would know all about what I do at NCIRS from my last blog post...).
Am I glad I made the jump? Yes... was it scary? Hell yes. But sometimes you have to follow your heart and have faith you'll end up on the right path. I've come to the realisation that what is right path for you, isn't necessary the right path for everyone else, and that is ok.