You Have More Choices Than You Think
Career Story Blog Post By Athena Petrides, PhD, Instructor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School, and Medical Director of Lab Control, Point-of-Care Testing, and Chemistry at Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Five years ago I was a grad student at University of Rochester Medical Center and was at a point with my project where I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. After four years of hard work, finally, things were working out and I had an actual story to write about as a thesis. That was a fleeting moment of excitement because then I asked myself – now what? So, naturally, I talked to many members of the faculty who pretty much said that I had two options: academia or industry. I was not thrilled. I was not at all excited by basic research anymore, and I no longer wanted to pipette, perform ELISAs, or pour gels. I did not want the bench; I wanted an office! After some soul searching I realized that I actually really did still like research, but I wanted to make some kind of contribution to science in real time. I wanted to help people – perhaps get involved in health care. Did that mean that I needed to do an MD? I didn’t want to go back to school: not at all
One day, as I was expressing my frustrations to one of the most talented and fabulous postdocs in our lab, she told me that she had a friend who had a career in clinical chemistry, but she really didn’t know what it was all about. I got her contact information and got on the phone with her the next day. I was blown away! It sounded like the ideal job/career, almost too good to be true. Helping clinicians with diagnosis, improving patient care, teaching residents, getting paid like a human being should be paid. It was perfect! The requirements? A Ph.D., a number of credit hours in chemistry, and a two-year post-doc with a COMACC (Commission on Accreditation in Clinical Chemistry) accredited program.
In the past five years, I received a Ph.D. in Biochemistry, did a two-year fellowship at Johns Hopkins University and have completed my second year as Instructor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School and as a Medical Director in the Clinical Labs of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Bottom line is, I love my job and I almost missed out on a wonderful career because no one knew to tell me about it.
So please join me in the K-307 auditorium (3-6408) in the Medical Center on Monday 8/8, at 11am so I can tell you about it!
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