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Becoming a student….again


So it’s been a bit quiet from @ECRhealth …….you might be wondering why….?

Well…2015 saw us both take a leap of faith and start something new… we both became students …again! And I know what you’re all thinking… you’re all looking at this blog in disbelief yelling at the screen…. don’t you already have a PhD?! And then… what else is there to do, PhDs aren’t they as high as you can go? #wtf

Firstly if you are currently an ECR don’t freak out – a PhD is enough, in fact it’s plenty-good! Unless your #multipotentialite self desires more

Some of us continue life long learning, crafting a niche, following your inclinations… and signing up for Master’s degrees.

Whilst this sounds positively blissful, trying something new can be, and is, daunting.

hoop jump

So here are some reflections on our experience and some tips for anyone considering some more study.

  • when you’ve been a teacher/tutor/lecturer going back to study can help you re-visit & develop humility towards your students
  • when you change things up there is a whole lot to learn about maintaining work/life/study balance (cos  it is no longer possible to pull all-nighters or infuse coffee through an IV to keep you going while you finish that assignment #lastminute.com). Find what fills your cup!
  • think about self-expectations and perfectionistic tendencies – Lynsey’s best piece of advice from her 2015 mentor was to consider everything you’ve got on your plate and acknowledge that Ps get degrees (meanwhile Lynsey’s averaging a HD but losing the work/life balancing act whilst Jodie failed a task and had to resubmit and the world didn’t come to an end)!
  • enjoy the feeling of your worlds colliding as you combine knowledge and experiences from past and present work and study (who knew there would be so much psychology in a public health degree?)
  • just jump through the hoops #JJTTH
  • realise that it is easier when you go back to study to focus on content, as the ability to write, format and reference comes more naturally (particularly since that’s what we’ve been doing for the past 5 years!)

And remember ……….it’s an amazing race….. enjoy the process!

Life inspiration

Images sourced from:





Researcher Resolutions 2016

Well… 2015 threw us some curve balls, that’s for sure. Which saw us develop agility and flexibility as researchers (and people) in the face of constant change. We still managed to tick off several key professional and personal KPIs (https://thehealthresearchjourney.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/2015-the-year-that-was/).

As researchers we always like to have something measurable in place so this planning provided an evidence-base for some academic tasks which at times can make you feel like banging your head against a wall (i.e. navigating journal submission systems, hoop jumping in the form of meeting grant specifications, and increasing administration tasks which go hand in hand with contemporary teaching roles).

Given the changes in the 2016 year and as blog collaborators not in the same office, the coming 12 months promises some unique but exciting opportunities. You’ll notice several of these involve working together across tasks… and that’s because (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140824235337-22330283-the-three-qualities-of-people-i-most-enjoy-working-with ).

collaboration picture

But we digress… Writing down things we’d like to achieve and then reflecting on these proved very satisfying. So we are doing it again!

  1. Write, find, inspire some useful resources for health research
  2. Guest bloggers – let’s grow this space (AD, CB, IP, LS…)
  3. Joint paper (at least one submitted this year)
  4. Joint project planned
  5. Virtual whiteboard -our attempt to keep connected #watchthisspace
  6. Regular M&M catch ups (some for study, some for op-shopping, some for futures planning!) and more celebrations of achievements together
  7. PNI research hub (let’s dream big!)
  8. Keep working on saying no, but also saying yes
  9. Learn from conflict (try not to run away and hide from it) #Eureka
  10. Be proud of being a multipotentialite – What do you want to do when you grow up? Lots of different things!
  11. Be confident in what we have to offer
  12. Play more across work and life #worklifebalance



Each of us has some additional goals…

JOB would like to:

  • Meet all core assessment and competencies for Masters Health Psychology coursework
  • Work part-time in family business successfully #lifeofachambermaid #multipotentialite
  • Submit my nemesis paper – an RCT vitamin study for stressed women
  • Maintain research connections for future research as a Scientist-Practitioner
  • Be present. Be patient. Be persistent.

LB would like to:

  • Submit 5 current low hanging fruit papers (and have at least 3 of them get accepted)
  • Get some policy experience (maybe by embracing opportunities offered by being a member of different professional associations)
  • Follow through
  • Stop checking emails after hours
  • Be brave and step out of the comfort zone


Just say NO

Sounds easy…right? Well it’s not! Every time we attempt to write this piece we can’t because we are not quite sure that we have mastered the art of Just Say No #JSNO.

Saying no, learning, mastering and implementing saying no is often hard work. That is because it’s both powerful and important. It can lead to hard conversations and strong emotions.

But there are only so many hours in a day – how do we decide what to fit in and which big rocks need to come out of the beaker? (http://www.worklifecoach.com/Big_Rocks.pdf) And how do we decide which rocks we can fit in – and want to fit in. You can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do (https://gretchenrubin.com/happiness_project/2013/01/secret-of-adulthood-you-can-choose-what-you-do-but-you-cant-choose-what-you-like-to-do/). It’s important to find the things that make you happy and find a way to do as much of them as possible.

mentor channel lists

But it is also important to consider the implications of our decisions. Sometimes we feel like we can’t say no because we’re trying to keep the boss happy or make the most of opportunities that might lead us somewhere exciting but our time and attention are valuable resources and need to be wisely spent.

As ECRs we are often presented with a raft of tasks to work on, some optional, others not so. There are a range of responses to try when faced with this situation:
• Just got to check with my therapist whether I can work on this with you
• That sounds great but could you email me some more information about it
• I’d rather stick a pen in my eye than do that
• (The handball: Get your supervisor to say no) I’ll need to check the work program/current team commitments
• Not sure I’ve got time to fit this in to current workload
• I’ll get back to you…

It is also important to listen to your gut – sometimes the idea of working on particular tasks has a really strong physiological response.

vomit TMOL

So it’s important to trust your instincts, think about how you would go working with this person/on this task (in the short and long term) and whether you have the stomach (and emotional energy) to say yes. Sometimes the bigger picture is reward enough, sometimes it’s not.

There are also occasions in which saying no can make us feel this bleurgh as well. Some good pieces of advice that we’ve received in the past for dealing with these potentially tricky conversations:
• Delay (thanks Hugh Kearns and Maria Gardiner http://www.ithinkwell.com.au/). When your head is screaming no but your mouth is likely to say yes – instead say, thanks for the opportunity, I’m just in the middle of something/need to check my diary – I’ll get back to you. It’s like counting to 10.
• Think about what you’ll need to give up in order to add this new task in.
• Do something only once. If you’re thinking about saying yes to an activity that you’ve already done many times before and won’t help with your career progression or your sanity levels then say no and say yes to trying something new instead.

If you’re prone to putting your hand up for things but finding it’s not helpful to life/work/career progression we suggest you:
• Minimise eye contact
• Sit on your hands
• Take detailed notes about the situation and feelings on an iPad – makes for excellent reading after the event and can clarify the decision making process. Is it the task? Is it the team? Is it the commitment?
• Go for a walk
• Phone a friend for advice.

Sometimes the universe delivers the thing you’ve been searching for and sometimes it is important to say yes but make sure it is yes to something that is important to you.

Have you found yourself in a situation of needing to say no? How did you go about it? How did it make you feel?