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Job dilemma - at a crossroads and don't know which way is best!

(11 Posts)
beyondbelief Thu 10-Mar-16 13:34:07

Am dithering about whether or not to apply for a job that I've been given the heads-up about. In many ways it would be a great opportunity, but in others I'm not sure if I want to make that step yet. I can't seem to see the wood for the trees anymore and have got advice coming in from all corners at work and home, so would really appreciate some unbiased opinions!

Current position: full time, permanent teaching contract in big RG university (healthcare subject). Sorry, I know everyone hates the RG stuff but it's just for a bit of context. Am on 60:20:20 split between teaching:scholarship:admin. Have MSc, strong clinical background and am FHEA with teaching qualification.

Pros: Really, really enjoy my job, have supportive colleagues and line management. Institution is far from perfect but I consider myself pretty lucky most of the time. Get to teach stuff that I am genuinely interested in (most of the time), run my own module at levels 6 & 7 which is interesting without being overly stressful. Students generally lovely although can be a PITA! Have been given a large and fairly 'prestigious' (in departmental terms!) project to lead (teaching not research) which ends middle of 2017. Good mentor/mentee relationship with MSc supervisor who is leader in her field and keen to support me with eg publications and getting involved with research in the dept (eg am being given lots of opportunities to participate in research projects although it is up to me to find the time, nothing appears on the workload model iyswim. Am comfortable and happy, if not blazing any trails.

Cons: Whilst I don't dislike teaching I don't absolutely love it and not sure I am a natural teacher. Would probably be happy to never teach again although really love supervision. But the biggie is that I am at the top of my pay band and cannot go any further in this institution without a PhD.

So... The potential job is as a research associate in the same institution, working for the 'other' professor (not my supervisor). It was originally a post-doc but they couldn't find anyone suitable so are advertising again. The project I would be working on is not an area I have much direct experience of in but I could engage with it quite happily, iyswim? The main draw is that I would be given the chance to develop my own programme of work within the broad remit of the funding stream and would also be funded to undertake a PhD. It is, by any stretch of the imagination A Good Job for someone in my position, in a big, well-respected, well-funded team.

I have two post doc colleagues who think I'd be mad not to apply. However my supervisor was a bit meh about it and said I probably needed more research experience...and then started talking about all the projects she could line up for me so I wonder if it was a bit political? She thinks I should apply for NIHR doctoral funding at the end of this year instead even though I'm struggling to pin down a research area of my own at the moment.

I'm really torn. I enjoy my current job and don't want to burn bridges here. But equally, witht he kind of job I'm doing now, the only way I will get a payrise/lectureship without a PhD is to move to another institution.

So, do I stay where I am and enjoy the relative ease and security?

Or stay and really focus on developing a great NIHR application with a view to finishing my big project in summer 2017 and then (fingers xd) moving to a fulltime funded PhD?

Or apply for this job, possibly piss off quite a lot of people here (including potentially my supportive supervisor?) and do a part time PhD as a research associate for one of the biggest research teams in my discipline?

Or...think about moving somewhere else altogether where I could potentially get a lectureship and more money without having to have a PhD (although I'd probably have to get one eventually)?

(Btw, I'm early 40s if that makes any difference!)

Sorry that was a bit epic. Any advice gratefully received!

MedSchoolRat Thu 10-Mar-16 13:59:07

Bird in the Hand vs. unknown quantity in the bush....
Would you enjoy doing a PhD? Slog at best of times.
Current supervisor is petty if she begrudges you taking a good opportunity.

fluffikins Thu 10-Mar-16 16:03:25

Apply, there's no decision to make until you're offered it!

Sounds like politics at play though so be careful about how you talk about the role to your existing sup

beyondbelief Thu 10-Mar-16 16:09:13

I do want to do a PhD, but I am mildly freaked by the prospect of trying to do it whilst holding down a fulltime (or near as dammit) teaching or RA job, hence the original idea of going for terrifyingly competitive NIHR funding.

I agree re supervisor. It was odd and a bit deflating. I may be misreading the political element's possible she just doesn't think I'm up to it, but she has always been happy to recommend me for other things. She is very keen on me 'building my CV' (publications, research methods training etc) which is fair enough but part of me thinks isn't that part of the PhD training anyway? I have one paper currently under review, two conference presentations and two (potentially 3) book chapters under my belt already, I think that's not too bad but maybe I'm kidding myself?

catch42 Thu 10-Mar-16 16:10:57

I know, fluffikins, all this angst for something I've not even applied for yet grin

I think it's one of those 'where the hell do I want to be in 5/10 years?' moments...I don't know!

beyondbelief Thu 10-Mar-16 16:11:50

Ha, name change fail!

fluffikins Thu 10-Mar-16 16:30:45


Have you considered a PhD by publication?

MedSchoolRat Thu 10-Mar-16 19:08:05

I don't know about PhD by pubn. What are the fees like?? I don't think OP has the right portfolio at the moment (could be very wrong).

I don't know about NIHR fellowships but I hear they are very prestigious, not easy to get.

I got my PhD while being a FT RA. I suppose there were only 3 chapters that became journal articles, but would be 4 nowadays (obligatory systematic review). I tried to plan 1 publication per chapter (not intro-litreview or conclusions), and one failed to get published. The thing is, most PhD students are fresh from being U-grads and haven't published before so don't know what standard to aim for boy can they waste time OP seems mature enough to be much more productive.

MarasmeAbsolu Thu 10-Mar-16 22:03:13

Your supervisor is probably miffed that she could be losing you out to the other team.
If lectureship is something you have in mind - go for the RA post with PhD option. You are at the top of your pay scale, and if you already feel a little uneasy about the teaching, it is a sign.

MedSchoolRat - I am personally trying to shake very hard this weird conception that a systematic review is obligatory. A standard iterative intro will work just as well for certain PhDs.

MedSchoolRat Thu 10-Mar-16 22:14:42

All the PhD students I encounter nowadays (range of health-related topics) seem to have a syst. review as big part of their 1st yr's research. Maybe that's just our institution, or someone else can comment how standard that is in health or other areas.

I think one needs a PhD at my institution to get to the higher end of RA pay scale, too. Am not sure what other doors PhDs opens compared to just MSc.

getyourgeekon Thu 17-Mar-16 05:42:38

It sounds like you would like to do a PhD and move from a solely teaching pathway. And even if you want to focus more on teaching in future it absolutely makes sense to get a PhD to enable you to progress. It's 5 years of your life now--you've got 20-30 years working life left.

In my experience, the happiest PhD experiences are when the candidate has driven the choice of topic, methods etc. So the RA post might not be ideal. Sounds like you have a good relationship with your current supervisor, does their research interests align with yours? If so, I would work on an explicit path to PhD with them - discussions around what can you get involved in now, a time plan for an application etc. If they don't make the right noises then start building relationships eith other profs.

In my dept (health/med in an RG uni) most candidates have NIHR or MRC funding, although there are also a small number of departmental studentships. most do a syst review for year 1 - does feel like it's becoming ubiquitous but I don't think it's essential.

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