I came off my night shift, drank a monster energy drink and headed to my meeting at Stewart House. The rhythmic pumping of the underground combined with the heat reminded me how tired I was. Recently I had been offered a fellowship in central London to analyse data and help implement changes on a national scale for the NHS. I initially didn’t have this in mind. I am starting post-grad at UCL in September in physics and engineering in medicine but I still agreed to meet. I listened to the sound advice of my work colleagues to go for it as it would good on the CV. My UCL tutor said that I could do post grad the next year, everything seemed good to go.
In Stewart, House people seemed enthusiastic. I was asked if my ears were burning last week because they wanted to recruit me, front-line clinical experience combined with math and coding seems to be desirable in this big data age. However, painstaking honesty had to be unveiled when I sat in that meeting. They told me that the fellowship money was part of a dying will and it was to create an NHS academic in areas like workforce planning. They wanted to know where I wanted to end up. I had to tell them that although I love data my main interest is med tech development, and that I want a role in NHS and industry.
I knew it wasn’t the answer they wanted to hear but it had to be said. I could have lied for short-term gain, done the fellowship and then went into postgrad. However, not only would I be depriving someone else of the opportunity this was the first time they were offering the fellowship. Applying for more funding would have been hard for them if the first one didn’t produce the intended result. This would have resulted in me burning bridges, which is rarely a good idea.
I do not want to be someone who clutches at any opportunity simply to pad out the CV no matter what. I want to make the healthcare system a better place. This means I have to consider the effects of my actions outside my CV. They understood. We still spoke enthusiastically about future projects and I will still be seeing more of them before I start postgrad. They want to improve the numeracy of clinicians and look into a more systemic tech training scheme in order to increase the comfort of using tech, and of course, there’s loads of data to process. I hope this is the start of a long productive relationship.