The tough conversations
One of the things I left (intentionally) off my to-do list for the week post was the talk with school-PI about hospital-PI. The plan is to arrange the meeting sometime either this week or next depending on school-PI’s availability to have the talk. I’m not thrilled about it and I don’t know how this will turn out, but it has to happen and it has to happen soon.
After a long talk with hospital-PI and some of the other people in our lab, I’ve come up with a plan that will (hopefully) keep me from getting kicked out of the lab/program should school-PI not be thrilled with the news. I’m hoping once I speak with him, we can come to some arrangement with hospital-PI, but I am not 100% sure that will be the case.
As I mentioned a few posts back (here), not that I’m keeping track or anything, I need to discuss my project with school-PI. The current project, the one I was just awarded funds for (here), the one the school is doing an interview of me for (here), the one that will have my face plastered all over the school news for, that project is probably not going to be run by me anymore. Hospital-PI made it incredibly clear that it will not be happening as it stands so I needed something else.
Thankfully he stepped in and offered me funds for a similar, but more tailored to his lab, project. So now I have not one, but two fully funded projects and since the second one (hospital-PI’s project) means I get to keep my new fancy job at the hospital I would really, really, REALLY, like to make it work. The problem is that hospital-PI may be paying the bills, but school-PI holds the key to my PhD.
So the talk with school-PI is two-fold. One is to let him know that the project may not work out as intended. Basically as it stands now I can’t do the work, but the good news is he now has a fully funded project to hand off to another student. I’m worried turning this down after making the commitment (or at least the implied commitment) will make me look bad, but I’m not left with a whole lot of choices unless school-PI says it’s this project or I can leave the lab (in which case it will be goodbye to the hospital).
The second point in the talk is to explain that hospital-PI has offered me an alternative project that would be very similar to the original project. I would be able to do the work in hospital-PI’s lab as much as I want and I would be able to devote way more time to the project than I could if I were going to split my time between the two labs like I’ve been doing. Technically hospital-PI and school-PI have agreed to give me 1 day a week to be in school-PI’s lab. So that would be one day a week to collect the rather large dataset I would need for the first project.
That’s actually the concern, because the project would take longer to do than that and hospital-PI is concerned that I won’t be available when he needs me. Since he’s paying me to be there full-time I can see why this would be a concern. So I’m not upset about him telling me no. I wish he wouldn’t, but I get it and I appreciate his concern that I’m being pulled between the two labs. Both PI’s just want the best for me, but neither can agree on what that is so I’m left to pick a side basically.
Now school-PI is incredibly professional. I don’t doubt that even if this really upsets him he will act very understanding. Even when I really upset him when I first started the fellowship in hospital-PI’s lab (here) because I didn’t understand how the protocol worked for things (no one explained it) he was gracious and after we resolved the issue that was the end of the conversation.
Basically I’m stuck between two people I really respect and I don’t know what to do or how any of this will play out. Obviously I need to think about what’s best for me and my career, but at the same time I also don’t want to upset too many people in the process. The community is really small and we all know each other, so I really don’t want to make a bad name for myself as I’m starting out.
Is it too much to ask for a holiday miracle?