Firsts are hard for me. While others see new opportunities/things for their shininess, I worry about how the 15 billion ways I can break them or screw them up. This fear probably explains my attraction to buying used, repairing anything broken well past the expense of just buying new and all things vintage. But it also makes transitions hard too.
Today is my first day at my new position. There's a lot of logistics that need to be worked out (new computers, new systems to learn, hiring to be done, training to plan for and a big meeting at the end of the week with the three professors who will be lecturing), but the scary part isn't the logistics but what this transition actually means.
For as long as I can remember, my goal has been to be a scientist. Throughout graduate school, I refused to give myself the formal title as I saw myself solely as a trainee (even though others around me bravely owned it). After graduation, though I now had three additional letters to add to the end of my name, I still didn't own the title given my delusion that somehow I didn't deserve it. Over the past year, that mindset has changed. Part of it was coming back to the bench and authoring a review with E. But the other part has been actually looking at how science is done. That the title isn't exclusively for those who fit into the ever shrinking field of R1 research professor, especially as many of them aren't actively working at the bench anymore. In a weird way, getting back to the bench not only got me back to my roots, but it also made me realize that the science I'm most passionate about revolves around how we learn about it. And that I do hold the title of scientist and have for a long time.
That's where the scary comes in. Because today, as I close a decade-long chapter as a bench scientist/trainee, I begin one embracing being a science educator; using all my training to apply it to the goal in front of me as it's something I truly believe in. The weight of owning it isn't lost on me.
The thing giving me focus at the moment is an encounter I had the day I began negotiations for this position. Moments following publishing this post, I had an opportunity to observe a teaching session with a group at the medical school who is helping change the way we teach cell biology to high-schoolers. This team is conspired of experienced nurses, many of who have worked in ERs, who were taking a flipped classroom model. Starting with a round table session, where the teens were talking about neuron anatomy, it immediately morphed into a case study where the girls took on the role as medical students/residents who were charged with diagnosing and treating their patient, an interactive manikin named "Holly," who was experience severe chest pains and was acting odd. A few things came out of that case study, mainly the girls being extremely upset that Holly repeatedly lied to them about having used any drugs (cocaine was found in her system after a drug test), but the added element was why Holly was also suffering a heart attack. And that's where the nurses turned everything on it's head again and helped guide the girls back through previous lessons about neural biology and how cocaine impacts that. Before any of us realized it, the girls were 1 1/2 hours into the lesson, all alert and all of them wanting to know more about the biology of addiction and how it impacts our society.
That observation experience has been on my brain ever since. Because that impact, those ah-ha moments, are what I want to see more of. And though this field is new, the potential to have meaningful impact is extremely high.
Today is day 1 of embracing this path. Of taking ownership and being prepared to stand on my own two feet. There are many pitfalls already visible and I worry that I've made a selfish decision to drag Grey and the Beats down this road (I'm extremely lucky to have the support I have from them and so many). The fear that I'll find some new an exotic way to break it all.
Here goes nothing. And everything.
#MicroblogMondays 139: Wind Phones
5 hours ago