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Come November, some things in my life are likely to change. How severe and dramatic a change that is going to be, I don't yet know


How did we get here?

1) the university where I am doing my PhD decided my research centre was for the axe. Protests and political shenanigans commenced, but the net result is that there is less money and much less department. There are also less staff, as some key members have decided (or been pushed) to leave (who can blame them for that?). Whereas I am assured by the university I will be able to complete my study there, one of the key components in the downscaling is that the courses the department runs are also scaled back - with those go the teaching opportunities that enabled me to pay my fees. (some 600 is paid for by my employer, leaving 1100 to be met by me. That in itself is not guaranteed but I will assume for the sake of sanity it is.)

2) Paranoia about wanting to reduce costs in the department not withstanding, I then failed to pass my progression. With reservations, and partly because I had been ill, the panel recommended I resubmit a revised report taking into account their recommendations. Recommendations which they say will be very difficult for me to meet.  The date for appraisal of my resubmission is in November.

3) I applied for a lecturer post at the university I work for. One of the key elements of that post - along with doing what I do now - small group facilitation- was the delivery of ethics tuition in the graduate medical school. Since I began working there I enthusiastically contributed to that aspect of the course, including acting as defacto pre-clinical curriculum lead for ethics, coursework lead, marker, and lecturer. They were kind enough to pay me for this, but only at an hourly rate equivalent to my associate pay grade (which, for anyone interested, does not include any of lead, setting, marking and lecturing).The extra money is not a lot, but it helps pay my fees.

I did not even merit an interview, apparently. 

One fortunate occurance was that the individual selected was not an ethicist and on this basis I was asked to deliver the ethics curriculum for 11/12.

So where are we now?

My revision for the progression panel is doing well - although how well I have no idea given last time's failure was not predicted by either of my supervisors. I am hoping the extensive rewriting and reworking with my supervisor pays off.

I have today received an email from work about a meeting to discuss ethics delivery in light of the arrival in post of the new lecturer. Now, I have a tendency to imagine the worst, so in light of that I shall retain some hope that it in fact will be a meeting to permanently, or at least temporarily, continue my responsibilities because I am good at them, the students respond well to me and my sessions, and the new person isn't an ethicist. It might be to discuss expanding provision now we have all this extra social aspects of medicine expertise available. 

However, the individual responsible for making these decisions does have a bit of a track record for telling different people different things, and leading people up the garden path before abandoning them on top of a wasps' nest. Given the tightness of budgets, the school is more than likely going to expect the new lecturer to deliver the ethics element on the basis they won't then have to pay me any extra. That would be sound from a financial sense of course, apart from the fact that good medical ethics teaching doesn't appear from nothing any more than you could ask a neurologist to deliver good lectures on cardiac physiology.

Fortunately, I am reasonably stable at the moment and know any conjecture is moot until after the Friday meeting. The fact that if it goes 'not in my favour' I have to spend the rest of the day being ultra professional is distressing, but I am not there yet. But, should future delivery (or in fact this years delivery) be removed from me, my financial situation takes a dip towards extremely untenable especially what I outlined in A above.

By the way, for the curious, my standard monthly take home pay is 540 a month.  I have to earn over 150 extra to compensate for the loss of housing benefit.  Put simply, I have to live, (being rent, 2 hours a work day of train travel, council tax, bills, food and supplementing my university fees,) on 700 a month. My lifestyle is not amenable to further curtailment.

Anyway, come November, the financial situation non withstanding, I have the resubmission of my progression report.  Again, until I actually KNOW the outcome, speculation could be unhelpful. However, I'm a planner when it comes to things like this, so I am attempting to plan ahead for the two most predicatble outcomes.

The most dramatic, life changing outcome would be a failure to progress.  The panel were kind enough to indicate I would likely be able to submit as an MPhil, but this would have the same costs and none of the career benefits of gaining a PhD. In short, my intention to make a career of lecturing in medical ethics (my intention for the past 10 years) would die.  At that juncture, I am separated from my friends for nothing and I am left needing to find something else to do with my life.  That kind of restructuring wouldn't come easily to most people, and to someone with my psyche it is likely to be hugely traumatic. Living in Stoke, working P/T in Derby, most of my friends and my partner in Liverpool - that just won't make sense any more.

The happy alternative to a failure to progress is that I am allowed to continue, newly structured and academically empowered, towards a PhD. This, of itself, is not life changing, upheaval material (unless I fail the damn thing after all this, but that's two years down the line and therefore too far for even me to fret about right now).  What IS problematic is that I might have gone through 4 months of reworking hell to find I cannot actually afford to continue. Potentially less additional work from my employer plus pretty definitely less additional work from my university = unable to pay my fees. I have, after all, been looking for supplemental income, a grant of some form, or another job for two years.  This might miraculously change in the next couple of months, but on the evidence of the economy, this is unlikely.

So, November. 

Not looking forward to you, one bit.

on 2011-09-14 07:01 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] sesquepadalia.livejournal.com
Best of luck, sweetie.

Will be keeping all digits crossed for you

xx

on 2011-09-14 07:34 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] sarahlascelles.livejournal.com
Eek, sounds like a big day. Fingers crossed, good luck.

on 2011-09-20 09:48 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] sixtine.livejournal.com
Rooting for you. You're clever and insightful and passionate. You can do it.

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