Sunday, August 22, 2010


Research is a necessary evil of medical school. Yes, it is possible to go through the educational system without doing research. It is even possible to do well and match in a good residency without a publication. But as someone interested in academic medicine, research is basically a required optional activity. The process fascinates me. The ability to spend time questioning, exploring, and explaining speaks to my inner child. However, the process also creates an emotional roller coaster which drives me nuts. There are constantly ups and downs, with very little balance between the highs and lows.

Currently I feel overwhelmed by the lows of the process. My abstracts from this summer need to be submitted this week, yet are stuck in the in-box of my PI waiting for revisions. I can't imagine how he's going to edit them in time, and being 3000 miles away limits my ability to nag him about it. If he does get them back to me, will they still need work before submission? How does one even submit abstract proposals to a conference in the first place? (I am sure I will learn as I go, I'm just not sure that timing will allow me to learn with these abstracts). What will happen if they aren't ready? Will this be the end of everything I worked on this summer?

The second project I've been involved with is currently stuck in the IRB labyrinth. We submitted our application for exemption on Thursday, right before the Friday deadline. This was our last chance to submit and get a reply before our intended (and non-negotiable) project start date. Late Friday afternoon we were informed there is a snafu in our application, and it may be insurmountable. I may have thrown a temper tantrum yesterday morning when I found out about this. I may have acted immature and unprofessional by sending out a rather pungent e-mail to my adviser and co-researchers, an e-mail I now can't take back. I intellectually know why the IRB is necessary but am so frustrated that silly bureaucracy (relating to intellectual property rather than ethical concerns) may impede on interesting and important research, biased opinion of course. Not to mention that this is research I WANT to spend my time doing instead of just doing it for the sake of my future... but maybe that is the problem. Being so attached to the topic might be increasing the emotional weight of every set-back. I guess you can never win...

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