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Ethical Question about a Research Job

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by em783, Mar 5, 2007.

  1. em783

    em783 7+ Year Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    I have a question for you all. So is it unethical (or perhaps, just plain stupid) for me to have recently accepted a research position at an institution knowing that I'm going to be going somewhere (medical school or master's program...master's is looking way more likely, though) in August?

    I think I know the answer, but I don't know if I'm just being paranoid. That's only about 5 months at this position, but still I gotta look out for whatever's in my best interest, right? My best interest being that I want a job where I can make some money while have it be relevant to medicine. I'm just full of questions today...
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  3. bbabul01

    bbabul01 5+ Year Member

    Aug 5, 2006
    Do they know you're leaving in 5 months? If they do, and they're ok with it, it's totally fine. If they think they have you for 2 years and you're leaving in 5 months, they might be a little upset. I'm assuming you mean the latter, so:

    You're going to be working face to face with these people, and in my experience you know more about your coworkers than you do about your extended family. So, that being said, do you plan to lie to your coworkers for 4 months, and then spring it on them that you're leaving? You will feel like a bad person. There's a big difference between all of a sudden winning the lottery and moving to France in 5 months, versus knowing your'e going back to school in 5 months.

    I've been there. Be up front and honest. Yeah, I realize it's a dog eat dog world. But you will feel like an ass if you spend 40 hours a week with these people then they find out the whole thing was a sham to prop up your resume.
  4. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California Moderator 10+ Year Member

    Jul 23, 2004
    Personally, I would not be comfortable taking a job under false pretenses. If your boss has a right to think you'll be around longer than you're intending, you need to be honest.

    I'm currently working pretty dismal short term contract work, because I wasn't comfortable taking a full time job knowing I'd be darting in August.

    If you're applying at Radio Shack, or somewhere that customarily has six month turnover, you're fine. If they're looking for and expect a longer commitment, I wouldn't be keen on taking it.
  5. grinchick5

    grinchick5 7+ Year Member

    Jul 26, 2006
    These situations are really tough for me b/c I'm a reasonably loyal person and I don't want to fee like I'm screwing over an employer (no matter how crappy they might be).

    Anyway, I'd say: take the job, do good work, earn some $$, and give the appropriate 2 weeks notice before you leave to start school.

    Your employer would drop you like a bad habit if it were no longer useful or cost effective to have you around. When push comes to shove, you're the only one who's going to look out for your best interests.

    My team recently hired a new researcher who moved from out of state to work with us. She was with us for exactly a month before she resigned. Turns out she got a better offer from an organization in her home state (they were going to pay her 2x what we were to do more interesting work) and decided to move back to take it. I think my boss was a bit disappointed, but most of us couldn't help but respect her. The common sentiment around the office was "Holy Crap! That girl's got balls! Good for her!"

    EDIT: It is important to note that this individual did take the job intending to stay long-term.
  6. lina123321

    lina123321 ralph: im a unitard 5+ Year Member

    Jun 20, 2006
    over the rainbow
    i was applying for employment which offered hours that were convenient for me, and i told the interviewer that i was in the process of applying to med schools... i had not yet received an acceptance, only waitlists..she said that b/c of that reason, she couldnt hire me...she wanted someone for at least a year, and b/c of the fact that i was waitlisted, there was the possibility that i could get, being honest kinda burned me; :(
  7. Karina 07

    Karina 07 Banned Banned 5+ Year Member

    May 1, 2006
    I kind of wonder why you'd take the job if you plan on fooling them.

    Because you would never, ever be able to use the experience on a resume.

    Unless it's only about the money. But just be aware you could NEVER put that on a resume.
  8. eternalrage

    eternalrage Even Kal has bad days... 10+ Year Member

    Jun 22, 2005
    Long Island, NY
    Don't jerk people around. Be honest with your intentions, and you won't have problems.
  9. em783

    em783 7+ Year Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Well now my worst fears have been confirmed: I'm a jerk for not having told them first.

    But here's the thing, I've been applying for jobs for 3 months and not getting any luck simply because I was being honest and telling the PI's that I had already applied to medical schools and wasn't sure what would happen this fall. This is the first time I was asked if I was interested in medical school for the future, and I said 'yes' without elaborating further, and I was not asked about applying/timelines or anything.

    Although this post might not indicate it, I really am a very honest person and I really don't want to inconvenience anyone, but had I not revealed too much information I would have had a research position 3 months ago and being somewhere for 8-9 months would have been significantly better for myself AND the employer.

    I shouldn't have even mentioned the money....I just love benchwork, actually, and really have had great experiences in it and wanted to be in that again. I probably could have made better money NOT doing research.

    I guess my point is not to make an excuse as to why I did this, but just to say that my intentions were not malicious at all. I was just somewhat naive in seeing how much this will affect my employer....I'll have to think carefully now on what to say and how to say it. I have a feeling this is going to be ugly.
  10. MinnyGophers

    MinnyGophers Senior Member 2+ Year Member

    Jul 10, 2006
    There is a difference between taking a job knowing full well that you would not stay more than a few months and lying to your boss/coworker about it vs. taking a job intending to stay but getting a better offer somewhere else.

    They most likely will spend a lot of time and money training you and expecting you to stick around ( which is why they wouldn't hire someone who can't commit for longer than a year) so I would say to be honest. Like other posters mentionned it already, you will be seeing those people everyday, and unless they turn out to be arseholes, it will definitely suck for them to have wasted their time and efforts on you.
  11. Tired Pigeon

    Tired Pigeon 7+ Year Member

    Jan 27, 2007
    Just be up front about it. If you deceive your boss & co-workers, it's going to come out in the end anyway (when you leave for medical school, it will be obvious that you knew about it for some time). At that point, you're going to look less than honest. For sure you will burn this bridge, and as another poster mentioned above you will not want this on your resume. Also things have a funny way of coming around to bite you in the a** when you least expect it -- like you're interviewing for your dream job 10 years from now & the interviewer turns out to be someone from that lab. Farfetched, sure, but you hear stories like this now and then -- karma does seem to exist, at least sometimes. Bottom line, your integrity isn't worth a few months of pay.
  12. Daydreamer2008

    Daydreamer2008 7+ Year Member

    Jan 19, 2007
    Unless you have that acceptance in hand and know you're going to so and so medical school, it is not unethical to not tell them.
  13. polofanPKP

    polofanPKP Fear the Vest 2+ Year Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    I was in the same boat, I had applied for numerous research positions, received many interviews, and every single one said that same thing, "I'm sorry, but we're looking for someone who will be here more long-term". I finally decided that I had been honest, and that nobody was going to let me work in research knowing that I wanted to head to med school. The next interview I had, I said nothing about leaving and got the job. I took a few sick days last fall (I had started in April, graduated in December) to go to interviews, got an acceptance, and told my boss about it as soon as I had it in hand. She was upset at first, she was counting on me being there longer, but she is also a surgeon and knew that med school was something that I wanted. So, after a half an hour or so, she cooled off, said that she was proud of me and that her only regret is that the best research assc. are the ones that want to move on and do something more.

    I think that many of them know that if your resume is impressive, you don't want to be a research tech. I think I was lucky in my experience, but I have also busted my ass since I started here and had a paper published. If PI's wanted more people to stay for more than 5 months-1 year, maybe they should try to pay a bit more than 21k a year. If you have student loans, you can't wait to get out of there, and back into nice, cheap deferment.

    In summation, you may feel guilty about not being totally honest about your intentions, but until you are accepted they don't need to know. It will just be another reason (many times the only reason) that they will pass you over.
  14. Tired Pigeon

    Tired Pigeon 7+ Year Member

    Jan 27, 2007
    Maybe I misunderstood ... my earlier post was based on the idea that the OP already knew he/she was going somewhere in August.:confused: If you're just hoping to go somewhere (med school, grad school) but don't yet have a firm offer in hand, then I don't think you need to say anything until you do.
  15. BigRedPremed

    BigRedPremed Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jul 20, 2005
    I was just in this situation as I was looking for jobs for my year off. I told each one of my interviewers up front that I could only devote 1 year. It probably cost me a few jobs but in the end I felt it was the right thing to do (since they would have to invest a lot of time in training me, etc.). If you know you will be gone in 5 months, I think it's even more ridiculous to accept a research position without telling the PI your future plans.
  16. no, take the job and then let me know about it because I'll be ready to take on a research job when you leave.:D
  17. em783

    em783 7+ Year Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    I actually really agree with your feelings on this, and I do think a lot of these PI's understand that many of us plan on applying to medical school in the future and it seems like, in terms of their personal thoughts, a lot of them would understand in the long run. And to clarify, I have been accepted to the Master's program already and plan on starting there unless I get into a med school. So technically I intend on starting somewhere.....that is, unless I find this research will be valuable enough to forgo the master's program in order to focus on getting published and devote time to working at this institution. Which is also a I guess I really don't know what I'll be doing. I've pretty much got 3 different options which is why I sound so confused.

    But, at the same time, I do understand why it would be unfair of me to not mention it. I still am trying to figure out what to say and how, but I know it should be done ASAP. And I do have to agree with Tired Pigeon that things have a way of coming back to haunt you.

    This is a sticky situation though, and it's not as clear cut as it seems. I do have my integrity and everything, and I think that there are far more deceitful things that could have been done, but I do see where everyone is coming from.
  18. southpawcannon

    southpawcannon 7+ Year Member

    Dec 14, 2006
    I had a situation as well just last week with deciding on the most ethical approach in terms of work. To keep it short, 2 months ago I was offered, and had accepted, a position working with an orthopedic practice doing rehab in their clinic. I had to wait for some paperwork to go through-beyond the control of my employer, during the time which I became uncertain if and when I would get to work. In the meantime, I got a call from another employer of a different field that I had background in, and became really excited.

    Things began to move pretty quick, but my potential employer contacted me and asked if I would be able to start the following week. I was uncertain of what to do, but as time got closer to the start date of the rehab job, the more I knew it would be very wrong to take the other. I began to feel uneasy, and if that wasn't enough, I all of a sudden got phone call after phone call from both sides one afternoon. Karma does tend to give you a little tap on the shoulder and say 'are you sure about that? I will be back to bite you in the ass later.' What's funny is everyone I talked to, family and some friends, told me to do what was best for me and seem to think I should go with the second offer. Luckily, due to the uneasiness I felt as well as advice from one good friend, I did the right thing and took the first job. I asked to meet the admin. of the second offer if I could sit in person with her, which I did, and was very honest about my situation. She appreciated me being professional and honest, and said if I ever needed anything down the road should something come available, to let her know. So, no bridges burned and, thus, ended up being a win-win situation.

    I agree with Tired Pigeon on how things can come back later on. You could end up working either at that place later, at some other location with one of those people there, or end up in a position knowing people who know these people. End result: blackballed. Do the right thing now, get yourself adecent paying job in something you enjoy-doesn't have to be medically related- while waiting out the last few months before entering school. You are gonna be waist deep medicine for the next 4 yrs+anyway.
  19. em783

    em783 7+ Year Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Wow. That was some story. You know, it's good to see so many morally upstanding pre-meds when so many of us tend to be really self-serving. Granted, I was about to opt out for the self-serving path, but I guess it's good karma for me to be a woman and do the right thing, and not have to worry about pissing people off a few months down the road. My PI will be in tomorrow and I've already scheduled a little meeting with her, so hopefully she doesn't bite my head off although I may deserve it. But it's not like she asked me straight up how long of a commitment I could make either, soo yeah.

    Any last minute words of advice/wisdom from people who have been in a similar situation? Thanks for helping me think it through.
  20. Mr. Itchy

    Mr. Itchy Member 5+ Year Member

    Jun 12, 2006
    Listen I have been applying for months as well. If you tell them you are going somewhere, you won't be accepted to the position. I have done quite a few interviews and have been rejected from every single position because I told them I was going to medical school. I finally decided against getting a job because I have another means of income (I'm a Realtor)...

    Apply at McDonalds, or don't mention you are going away. I personally think the latter is more fruitful. Its not like they give you notice if they lay you off because money gets tight. Every younger person I talk to says don't lie, every older person who has dealt with this stuff their whole life says just omit and get the job, you don't owe them anything!

    Choice is yours. McDonalds or research!


    I notice a lot of well-funded premeds who have mom and dad to pay for everything. Good on them, the decision to be honest is easy! Other people aren't so lucky.
  21. DrZeke

    DrZeke yzarc gniog ylwolS 10+ Year Member

    Apr 25, 2005
    Listen Em, I was in the exact same situation as you and had to end up working at Starbucks, because once people heard I MIGHT (and I'm saying MIGHT) be going to med school in the fall, they wouldn't hire me. They wanted a minimum 1 year commitment. I couldn't lie, because they were affiliated with a med school that I was interviewing at and wanted to go to. I end up getting accepted there and in January someone took pity on me and hired me to do research. It was a mess, however, and I had to work in something unrelated to medicine and was freaking out about "what would med schools think".

    I agree with what someone said about how until you have any firm offers, you have no need to tell them. Also, in 5 months you could put your name on a paper or do a poster presentation. It is totally worth it and you are technically not lying. You had no malicious intentions going into this job...
  22. em783

    em783 7+ Year Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    So, Dr. Zeke, you ended up working in Starbucks or did you continue with the research position?

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