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deciding *against* a Ph.D.

James B. Hutchins jbh at anat.UMSMED.EDU
Fri Dec 18 21:49:49 EST 1992

In article <1992Dec17.181139.3264 at news2.cis.umn.edu>
diqui at pathogen.med.umn.edu (Diqui LaPenta) writes:

>>>I'm facing a serious decision regarding the direction of my scientific career.
>>>I am in the 4th year of my Ph.D. program in microbiology, and I have battled
>>>a terrible lack of motivation for the last 1 1/2 years.  

In response, kristoff at net.bio.net (David Kristofferson), a truly *wise* man,
>The truth is, in my opinion, that one can become
>excessively fixated on the notion that science is the only truly
>worthwhile thing to do with one's life (particularly when you are
>surrounded only by people who are intensely focussed on that goal).
>If one ever looks outside of the lab, there are actually many other
>*interesting* (and often better paying) career options.  Getting out
>from under that burden takes a lot of fortitude, but you'll probably
>be amazed at how good you feel when you finally find something that
>you *really* like to do.  Rest assured that there *is* something out
>there for you, and don't be afraid of being put down by others in your
>attempt to find it.

This thread contains some good advice for all, not just women and not
just scientists.  When you look back on the last few years (of your
marriage, of your work, whatever), can you say it was _engaging_?  (Not
necessarily "fun", although that word applies in some ways.)  Did you
approach your work/relationship/friendships with _passion_?

Now, today is not an especially fun day for me, nor has it been a
"fun" year ("I will not look back on the year 1992 with undiluted
pleasure"--QE2).  However, I am still engaged in my work and in my life (I
hope!).  This despite all the drawbacks that have been previously mentioned.

Concrete advice: if you can't face the next few years at the lab bench,
get out (gracefully).  But I would respectfully suggest that your experience
with lab work *may* be field-specific (I enjoy neuroscience, but would be
bored and terrified by microbiology--no value judgement, just personality
differences).  Maybe you haven't found your niche yet.  Look around.  Do you
see a job or subject that makes you say, "Gee, I'd like to try that"?  Do
you meet neat people who turn out to be accountants, or bankers, or
waitpeople?  Then maybe you would like to try your hand at the entry level
of those jobs.

All the best of luck to you, and keep us posted.  I believe I speak for the
other netters when I say we have *all* had the same feelings that you have
eloquently expressed.
Jim Hutchins                    []     E-Mail: jbh at anat.umsmed.edu
Dept of Anatomy                 []
Univ Mississippi Med Ctr        []

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