What do you want out of this?

My postgrad is coming close. The hours worked in A and E will be reduced soon and I’m having to refer project opportunities to other people. One thing that gladly doesn’t change is the email correspondence. I love hearing from people, exchanging ideas and listening to other peoples’ stories. Recently I have received a number of emails from F1s as they are settling into their new jobs and they want to start working on projects in order to polish their CV. Sadly I cannot give them too much advice on their project ideas because they are missing out a key part of information, what do they aim to get out of this?

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This isn’t a question that you should spin once you’re halfway through your project. The outcome and the way you approach the project is essential to what you want to get out of it. To labour the point, look at the following web app I developed and launched:

The idea isn’t groundbreaking. All it does is save people in my department from walking over to the wall where the bleeps are displayed. I doubt it has a much impact on clinical outcomes, however, this is not what I wanted out of this web app. I was getting to grips with servers and the best way to learn and demonstrate is to complete a small project. Measuring outcomes, coming up with a challenging idea or trying to change practice would have just complicated the situation. When I refer to the web app I am telling them that I can develop one and get it running on a server. Ideas and implementation will change with future projects. A small victory proving skill in a particular area is more useful than an unfinished project with grand intentions. If you want to develop your analytical skills pick an easy clinical outcome to measure. You can then spend your time developing transferable analytical skills as opposed to talking to different departments, getting access to data and having to rely on others to make it a possibility. Once you’ve got a few small victories under your belt people will want to use the skills you’ve demonstrated in other projects. You can focus on a more meaningful problem as you will not have to burn time smoothing out technicalities.

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