I don't know what to be when I grow up... for the 5th or 6th time.
October 8, 2012 8:22 AM Subscribe
I desperately need to take my career in another direction, but my degree, training and experience are ridiculously specific. Is it the right time for grad school (again)… or something else? Help me think outside the box.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Anonymous because I don’t want this connected to my real name/account, but I’ll try to be as specific as possible.
My masters degree is in a healthcare field emphasizing direct client service. Even when I was pursuing the degree, I was more interested in theory than application, but thought I should practice for a while before rolling into a PhD program. I’ve not regretted that at all; my direct experience in the field has really helped to shape and define my interests (which end up being tangential to my original field surprise surprise). For the past year I’ve been making plans to apply to graduate schools, have been working as an adjunct lecturer, and getting more involved in research activities at my employers. I know academia will be a good fit for me.
Along the way, I had the opportunity to act as a team leader for a large department to troubleshoot and solve a problem which had been growing for years. This position was pretty much diplomacy and negotiation: bringing together different departments with administration and negotiating a workable solution without increasing overhead or resources. It was challenging and pretty much consumed my life, but I really enjoyed the work. I think the biggest challenge was trying to balance those responsibilities with the day to day clinical care.
Speaking of: I’ve become more and more dissatisfied with the clinical care aspect. Through my career I’ve created a kindof specialization within a specialized service model of this specialized field, so just going out and switching gears to the thing that 99% of the other people with my degree does (do?) is a little more difficult at this point. Plus, the reason I pursued all this specialization is that the other 99% is dull as heck. I’m barely hanging on mentally in this situation I’ve created/worked for as it is.
So yeah, grad school. I’ve got my programs picked out, I have a great application packet, but the thought of pulling the trigger is terrifying: I have a family, including a toddler and a middle schooler that I’d have to uproot and truck across the country, not to mention the whole mega workload at half my current salary thing. Oh and I’m nearly 40 and I feel like if I’m going to do this I need to do it now now now.
At the same time, I’m keeping my eyes and ears open for other possibilities as I don’t know if I can seriously hang on for another year in my current position. In browsing job boards I discovered the field of Quality Improvement, which turns out to be exactly that thing I was doing for a while that I enjoyed. And I seem to meet many of the qualifications. And it nearly doubles my salary. Like literally a whole new world of opportunity feels like it just opened up and I’m even more overwhelmed and confused.
Are there other positions like QI that are worth exploring? I like the idea of “doing good” but hands on day to day implementation is a drag. I love working with people, listening to people and solving problems. People told me I was really good at this other role I took on for a while, and I probably could have kept it if I wanted, but it was too much with my clinical work. I love data and numbers and writing and presenting, and I’m darn good at those things. I have some tech skills (regular office junk plus some database administration/programming experience that’s like a decade old). I’m also really good at my clinical job. It just makes me deeply unhappy and dissatisfied.
Or should I just hold my breath and do the grad school thing and pray to god that I (and my family) can handle it?
Oh I should probably also mention that I have a burning need to change what I'm doing every 5 years are so and I'm about 2-years past that expiration date. Yes, I do realize that this one statement renders everything else I said moot. But I guess any potential path should have some option to shake things up every once in a while.
This question feels really self indulgent, especially in this economy. I should probably just count my blessings and cultivate a nice hobby instead of defining myself by my job. But I can’t do that, I never have, I wish I could. Thanks for any advice or insight.