The path moving forward
Pick your battles. After having a conversation with another student about their PhD plans and how soon they want to graduate, they offered that sometimes you need to pick your battles. I couldn’t agree more with that statement and when I met with school-PI a few days ago virtually to go over my big PhD plans I asked what I needed to do to finish. I needed to pick my battles.
The road to a PhD is a long winding one. The school gives me ten years to finish what, on average, amounts to a five year degree. They do this because they are aware that sometimes things take longer than you planned. I want to finish in five and until I know for certain that it is no longer an option, I will keep pushing to finish by then. We’re half way through my fourth year so I have a year and a half left to do the work. The question is how much work do I have left?
Who knew a year and a half could feel so fucking long. After three and a half years of doing this and that with the goal of my degree in sight I had to go and make the last leg of the journey the most difficult possible. That seems to be a theme for me, make my life as hard as possible. Maybe I do it subconsciously so I have something to complain about, who knows. What I do know is that it’s been a theme in my life and I’m not a fan.
School-PI and hospital-PI both have different ideas about what my project should look like. The problem is that I have my own thoughts/feelings/opinions and they don’t always align with either one of my PI’s. I haven’t even included surgeon-PI intlo this discussion because, well that would just be too much for me. Theoretically, this decision should be between school-PI and me anyway, so when I met with him I went in with certain expectations on the work I need to do.
While we didn’t 100% hammer things out, he asked that I send a proposal and timeline to him. I plan on doing that in the next few days, but I had to have a somewhat difficult talk with hospital-PI. There is a sticking point between hospital-PI and school-PI about one portion of my project using my “super secret” technique. The sticking point is that school-PI wants me to try something with a very high probability of failure, hospital-PI doesn’t want me wasting my time. This is where I had to pick and choose my battles.
The amount of work to do what school-PI wants me to do for that portion of the project is negligible and once we find nothing (at least I expect to find nothing), it will keep me from needing to do even more work later. However, hospital-PI has gotten it in his head that the extra bit of work is just too much, the straw that broke the camel’s back so to speak.
After some discussion he said he could live with it and that his feelings were a bit hurt, but who cares? To which I said I care, but the thing is I’m stuck in this awkward position and no matter what I do I am going to hurt someone, literally the only thing I can do that would keep that from happening is nothing, but then I’m just hurting myself. So I needed to pick and choose, so I did. I hopefully will have a fully written proposal here in the next few days, to which I hope hospital-PI will give the green light to, then I will send it off to school-PI for his approval.
If he approves, then I can get my IRB, notify my committee, and get the ball rolling for my proposal defense. There is a longer form (a few pages) proposal that needs to be written and sent out a few weeks prior to my defense, but that shouldn’t be too hard considering the amount of writing I’ve already had to do for the project.
But let’s slow down just for a second. I have a lot of if’s coming. If hospital-PI agrees to the project, if school-PI agrees to the project, etc. While I have verbal agreements from both of them, as I found out the hard way, that doesn’t mean much. So now we will get everything more formally written out so that everyone is on the same page, no one has any surprises, and we are all in agreement about the amount of work I need to do.
The only way any of this can happen is if I send out a proposal I think both will agree to and that has been the huge sticking point. Now that I THINK we are past that, I may actually have some forward progress to the degree. This has been so very stressful. I literally just need everyone to agree on the work I need to do so I can more forward. Really I just need school-PI to agree, but I want hospital-PI to be okay with everything as well since he’s my boss and my friend.
Everyone just wants what’s best for me, but I think both are worried that the other will try to take advantage of the situation and so we’re at a stalemate with me in the middle trying to reassure both that the other has good intentions. I don’t want to have to pick and choose sides, so I will continue trying to broker peace between them.
It’s only for a year, I’ve been through far worse for far longer, I can manage a year.