Over the summer, due to events both good and bad, I found myself at a crossroads. The decision surrounded my career but would also have a great impact on my life going forwards. Should I continue to pursue a career in health research management, for which I had not quite found my groove since moving to Canada 3 years previously, or should I try something new?
Research management offered me stability and it was familiar. I had a thirst for knowledge on research in healthcare particularly where there is strong patient engagement, co-design and knowledge translation. I had spent 10 years climbing the ladder post-PhD. However, due to differences in the role between the UK and Canada*, that ladder had the potential to involve in a game of snakes and ladders. My roles in the UK had been broader allowing me greater autonomy and also opportunities to flex my creative muscle (including getting to be involved in the production of a series of films about rate metabolic diseases**)
As long as I could remember, I had always been highly imaginative, capable of seeing things from a different perspective and had a wish to create. But I also had a strong analytical and academic side, and with a fascination of understanding how things worked, went the scientific route at university. Following a relatively defined pathway, research management was one of the expected routes.
I always felt the need balance my creative and scientific sides and used time outside of work to engage in creative pursuits. For a large part, over the last four + years, this has been through a photo-a-day challenge***. This challenge has offered me so much; development of my artistic eye, technical and post-processing skills, self-discipline, opportunities to meet photography idols, and volunteer for my beloved Beakerhead****. I love photography and think that I have well-developed skills in it but like I was concerned that my health research career was not allowing me express my creative side, photography does not allow me adequate intellectual engagement. I needed to find a balance between the two, not swing wildly from one to the other!
So where did this leave me? Well, one of my greatest strengths that I enjoyed completing in research management was gathering and synthesis of complex information to build an argument. I loved telling the story through word. In my spare time I used photography to tell a story. Hmm, maybe there is something in this storytelling; I do love a good documentary and I could combine my skills to create meaningful short documentaries on health research.
One slight problem, I don’t know how to make films. It’s ok I can read, take courses and teach myself. Umm, yeah, but it is awfully lonely here. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some people in the biz who could mentor me and provide their insights and advice to set me on the right path. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a qualification to show for my efforts and set me on my journey to a new career? Enter Raindance…