Dr Paige Tucker completed a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science and Applied Statistics at Murdoch University in 2005 before completing a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery with Honours at the University of Western Australia in 2011. She has a strong interest in Gynaecological Oncology research and is currently undertaking a Doctor of Philosophy at Notre Dame University into sexual outcomes after risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy in women at high risk for ovarian cancer.
When asked to write about the advantages of undertaking research as a junior doctor, I was ecstatic… (partly as any article at this point is going to increase my publication record substantially) and naïvely I thought: “At last! Here is my chance to convince my peers of the virtues of research.” I was wrong. As with most of my projects, this eager enthusiasm to educate the masses and change current opinion quickly dissolved into despair (and a rather nice glass of Pinot). With each sip I reflected on my own journey as a DiT researcher… the months spent begging Fellows and Consultants to include me in their projects, the weekends spent pouring through poorly written patient notes for that audit which was presented at the departmental meeting then promptly buried, and the hours spent online Googling “limitations to student t-tests” (and “best Pinot under $15”). The conclusion I came to during this musing was this: Research is completely overrated. With this epiphany, I put down my glass, shooed my cats from my lap, and wrote down the 10 Things I Hate About Research:
- Too many CV points
In this era of personalised medicine where each patient gets their very own junior doctor, the competition to get onto training is high…. But why on earth would anyone want to get onto training? The life of a registrar is tough, with more responsibility and greater expectation of knowledge. And lets not forget the yearly increases in the amount of tax you have to pay as you constantly jump up pay brackets! Publications and research presentations will provide you with too many CV points that you may actually run the risk of beating others in the race for that one training position being offered in the southern hemisphere, best not to risk it.
- High expectations placed on you
Let’s be honest, if people think you are a little on the slow side, they are less likely to ask you do anything beyond the tasks of changing cannulas and re-writing medication charts. Research will spoil this blissful ward existence and colleagues will start to view you as something more than Hodor with a prescriber number.
- Unable to avoid the scrutiny of bosses
Those long hours spent in front of the mirror during medical school, perfecting the ability to blend into the background, will be for nothing if you do research. Not only will consultants start noticing you, they may even start calling you by your real name, rather than the affectionate nickname they gave you back in week 1, “RMO number 4”. Worse than that, they may start eyeing you as potential for specialty training, and then your happy RMO days are numbered.
- Sent to scary places
Once you start doing research you will be encouraged and expected to present at conferences in other cities, and even worse, foreign countries. There is a reason we choose to live in Perth and that is because it is as far away as possible from the rest of the world, and if you really wanted to experience new places, you could just opt for a term at Rockingham Hospital.
- Sleepless nights
You know that long, deep sleep you get every night knowing that the intervention your patients receive was supported by that really great case series from Korea? It will end once you start research. Welcome to sleepless nights as you realise that level of evidence matters, and your mind races all night with all the limitations to the current literature.
- Too much knowledge
By doing research you get to know a topic in depth, and may become more of an expert in the area than many of your seniors… this can become a serious problem since you are not particularly interested in that (or any) specialty. Ignorance is, indeed, bliss.
- Kills your free time
Say goodbye to all that time spent on the weekend planning how you would survive the Zombie Apocalypse. Once you start research you will want to read articles, work on your data collection or even (in a moment of pure insanity) opt for a higher degree by research… and with all that extra grey matter it’s guaranteed you will succumb when the first wave of Zombies hits.
- Wastes your study leave
Remember that warm feeling you got when you saw your professional leave reach double figures? You will never experience that again when you do research, in fact all of a sudden PGME will be throwing leave at you, like monkeys throwing poop at a zoo!
- Loss of skills
As newly minted interns, long hours were spent emulating the incredible skills displayed by our team RMOs such as work avoidance, handballing responsibilities and being able to sniff out free food from the doctors common room. Sadly, these skills will be lost when you do research, as you suddenly find yourself wanting to engage with the care given to patients on your team, and feel this uncomfortable urge to improve their outcomes, and expand your knowledge.
- It is a drug of addiction
If my last 9 points have not dissuaded you, let this be my final warning. RESEARCH IS ADDICTIVE. At first it’s just a bit of fun you did on the weekend with friends… it gives you a bit of a buzz but you are not a “researcher”, and you will stop after you finish this paper, right? You can stop at any time, right? Wrong! Once you pop, you cant stop… you need to get that feeling of getting a paper accepted again, unfortunately that journal with an impact factor of 1.1 doesn’t quite cut it anymore, you want better quality now! You start hanging out with other researchers, listening, enthralled, by stories of the most incredible highs (the mythical New England Journal of Medicine acceptance, which is apparently 55 times more potent than any other). You will lose sleep thinking of how you can get the next hit, and eventually your friends and family will whisper amongst themselves about how much you’ve changed…. So please, for the sake of the small children, don’t do research!