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Tips on how to get into research...

Discussion in 'Physical Therapy' started by markelmarcel, 09.21.14.

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  1. markelmarcel

    markelmarcel 5+ Year Member

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    Wasn't sure what I really wanted to call the title of my post, so hopefully people read this... I am interested in improving patient care and moving into some research/academia as part of my career at some point. However, I was wondering if anyone had any pointers on how to introduce yourself to various people that may be doing research, and thus become involved in their research. For instance, I have thought about trying to come up with a question on patient care/outcomes that are used in my clinic and then asking my professor from PT school if she would help me with a small research study (as I'm local to where I graduated). Or, I know that there are other schools in the area that would undoubtedly have people doing research... how does one go about saying, "Hey! I want to do research with you!" when you don't know the person?
     
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  3. jblil

    jblil 5+ Year Member

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    The easiest thing to do is to contact your old PT professors. They always need (unpaid) help in their research, be it crunching numbers, searching literature, contacting patients for follow-ups, etc. They already know you and you know them. You may even get your name on one of their papers. Pick one that does research in an area that you like.
     
    markelmarcel likes this.
  4. Bluecase

    Bluecase 2+ Year Member

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    If you want to do research get a phd. To be capte accredited half the faculty needs to have a research doctorate. Other positions are available like ccce but they are less involved in research typically. Sucks to get more schooling but it's def the easiest way to get into that field.
     
  5. markelmarcel

    markelmarcel 5+ Year Member

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    I'm not opposed to getting a PhD someday, however, I'd like to try to eventually get a faculty position at some point (on an adjunct basis) and then work towards my PhD while teaching. Also, I want to get my cardiopulm specialization which requires doing some type of data analysis project... So, how does one go about that? I have plenty ideas of things I'd be interested in looking at even within my own practice, but not sure how to get someone interested in looking at the same things as me. So, that leads me to finding someone who's already doing research that I can assist with. It's just figuring out how to start connecting with the right people.

    Thanks for both of your responses! I appreciate it! :)
     
  6. jblil

    jblil 5+ Year Member

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    Think long and hard before you decide to go for a PhD. I wanted to get one, once... After talking to several folks (mainly PhDs & postdocs) and scoping out the marketplace, I changed my mind. Of course, go for it if that's your dream but realize that the payback is very uncertain. All the non-tenured PhDs I have talked to complain of spending significant amounts of time writing grant proposals, so "grantsmanship" is now a required skill. And if you don't bring grant money in, forget about getting tenure.

    Good article, from a very serious magazine (i.e., not something from yahoo.com):
    http://www.economist.com/node/17723223
     
  7. markelmarcel

    markelmarcel 5+ Year Member

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    Thanks, jblil! Getting a PhD is not a 100% definite for me... The schooling makes me want to vomit at this point, since I just graduated.. But, I am interested in teaching and not sure if I can really get into academia full time without a PhD. Definitely something I'll be working through as the years go by. But, that doesn't solve the issue of needing to complete some type of data analysis to be able to sit for the cardiopulmonary specialty exam. Luckily, my CP professor is interested in doing some research with the company I work for, so we are going to meet to discuss.
     
  8. ptisfun2

    ptisfun2 2+ Year Member

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    First, thanks for wanting to get involved with research! We need more clinicians like that!
    Find academic researchers in your area doing something you are interested in. I have several clinicians working with me on research projects, and then they parlay the work we do into something on their own with me providing whatever support they need (most often methodologic support and statistical analysis). The clinicians I have mentored have all been alumni, so easier to start with your own school and the faculty doing research you are interested in.

    Although PhD was the hardest 4 years I have EVER spent, it is well worth it. I have posted this before, but I feel so strongly about this, it bears repeating.
    1. DO NOT PAY FOR YOUR PHD! Of course you may have to take loans to live, but tuition should be covered by your mentor's research. You should also be working with your mentor in either a fellowship or as a graduate assistant. There are fellowships available through APTA, as well as NIH/NSF. For example, I had tuition and fees (and books) as well as a $24,000/year stipend as an NIH Fellow. I was not rich, but I could survive in mid 2000's with this.
    2. Think carefully about your mentor/school you attend. The purpose of a PhD is education in becoming an independent researcher. If a mentor you are interested in working with at a school does not have funding (see #1), then is that the best or even an appropriate environment for you to be getting educated in independent research? There are a lot of issues in PT schools where faculty are receiving a "PhD" and schools make it easy and online. Well the graduates are not competent with independent research, and so these schools are not doing any favors to the students (off soapbox about this, but I really hammer this point with my students).
    3. Think about your choice of degree. The "PhD" in PT are not giving you probably what you want since PT is a clinical science. You stated you have an interest in cardiopulmonary, then maybe consider exercise physiology, physiology, etc. PhD in things like measurement and evaluation can offer a broad application for your dissertation work (which is where your interest really comes out). If you are interested in teaching (like you commented) and your research interest is in PT education, then a PhD in Higher Ed or Adult Ed may be something to consider.
    4. Do your homework. A PhD is a significant undertaking. Basically it is misery :), and I cannot imagine anything more stressful and draining. Before you consider it, visit schools and speak with potential mentors. A bad mentor is almost something you cannot fix and stops many people from finishing their PhD. talk to current students, as well as many faculty as you can. Do PubMed searches on any potential mentor...are PhD students included as co-authors? Are PhD students 1st author on anything?How much work does a mentor expect? It ranges from 20-50 hours/week and probably more than 50 (but no one will admit it :) ), plus classes. How long does it take for students to finish? 3-6 year of full-time work is a standard i think most people use.

    Finally, although there is a lot of unemployment, and more prevalent, underemployment with PhD graduates, and you will hear about grads doing multiple post-docs since they cannot get a tenure-track position, PTs with PhDs are in demand. A quick search in the Chronicle for Higher Education last month had 38 faculty positions for PT/PhD. The pay is also competitive with a clinical salary since it has to be. A faculty in a PT Department will in all likelihood get paid more than a faculty member in Sociology (and a faculty in Business more than PT, etc, etc). Market values prevail to a certain extent.
    Although funding, grant writing, publishing are required for a faculty member, if you go to the right school with the right mentor, you will have experience and education and skills in these things and then it is just another part of the job. It is not hard.....you just have to have appropriate training for it. And then get a job at a University with the support, infrastructure, and senior faculty to continue mentoring. Teaching is much harder than the research side of things in my opinion.
     
    markelmarcel likes this.
  9. jblil

    jblil 5+ Year Member

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    I looked up the salaries of my MBA profs; it's public info since it's a state school. Most of them make about $300K/yr. That clearly shows the values of our society...
     
  10. DesertPT

    DesertPT ` 2+ Year Member

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    :thumbdown: :thumbdown: :thumbdown:
     
  11. Azimuthal

    Azimuthal Ninja Zombie Slayer 2+ Year Member

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    That's pretty good. Mine are pulling about 120-150/yr.
     

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