Thursday, February 27, 2014

PhD Generalist

A PhD degree actually makes you a generalist. This is because for the dissertation you are in charge of the total project. It turns out any project is made of multiple components. As the project leader you have to plan, order supplies, schedule, deal with people, plan experiments, execute the experiments, analyze the data, write papers, promote your work. Because as a graduate student you won't have a staff working for you, you get to do a little bit of everything. When I needed access to clinical data I had to work through the administration to get myself permission. When I needed computer hardware I had to set it up. When I needed software I either downloaded and installed it or wrote it myself. I had to collect data, measure the data, analyze the data, write papers, and then promote the work at conferences. I found at earlier levels of education I could focus exclusively on laboratory experiments or on developing computer software tools but then at the highest level of education where you are supposedly focused on just a specific topic I became a generalist.

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