Thursday, September 27, 2012

That First Presentation....

I gave my first research presentation in DC early front of a bunch of nurse researchers! Needless to say, I was super nervous. But, I made it through the 15 minutes and didn't die. I guess that's good news. I did have a few tips that I'll need to remember before the next one - slated for March 2013...

1) Practice until you start hearing your speech in your dreams...or maybe nightmares. There is something comforting about being able to recite what you plan on saying on a treadmill, in your head, in the car, to your dog. 

2) Watch what you eat the morning of...and be sure you actually do eat! I didn't want my stomach attacking me during the presentation, so I tried to eat lightly. But I also didn't want to feel lightheaded from hypoglycemia! I made sure to eat some fruit and some carbs...something, at least to tie me over. Oh, and plenty of water!!

3) Scope out the room. I actually ran into the room the morning of the presentation and practiced there. I tried to imagine what it would look like using the presentation software and seeing people in front of me. At least I knew what to expect in terms of the environment (e.g., Was there a podium? Was there room to walk around? Where there wires I needed to avoid so I don't trip and fall flat on my face? Was it bitter cold or swelteringly hot in there?)

4) Before you start, it's okay to tell your audience that this is your first time. I thought, hey, what the heck, might as well let them know so they won't expect toooo much. Well, after I told them, they gave me a supportive round of applause. They were really, really nice. I think the older nurse researchers really do want to help build and grow future nurse researchers. I was a little scared because I didn't really think there were a lot of students at this conference, but I was so happy that everyone was very supportive...My advisor said that I can say that it's my second, third, and fourth too....Not sure when the cut off is, but I think at least those few should help!

Well, that is all I can think think, all this anxiety over a 15 minute presentation. To be honest, I was most worried about the questions. Luckily, I only had one question, and it wasn't too terrible. I had given my speech to my husband and asked him what he thought and what questions he had. It's always best to be prepared! 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Summer Motivation

The semester is over and I've successfully survived two years of grad school. It's been a crazy last few weeks though, filled with on-campus days, a busy research practicum, a Vegas-style Bachelorette Party, a quick trip to D.C., and a weekend zoom through our future state of residence: Sunny Florida. Actually, the last thing on my mind these days is school. I'm busy thinking about packing, moving, how my research assistant, Indy, will manage to survive the trip (he's gets horribly car sick), and general other rest-of-my-life-stuff. But I just received two sources of funding, so I really do have to stay the course and continue being productive through the summer. After all, I've only got about two more courses to go before my comps and then the dissertation phase follows. Now is not the time to lose momentum...or my motivation. I figure having these sources of funding will help keep me on track. I have to provide periodic reports on my accomplishments and activities to continue the funding. That's good motivation right? Perhaps I should create a mantra to remind me that funding = motivation...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Break

Spring break is just around the corner - next week in fact. Of course, when you are in grad school, spring break doesn't really mean what it used to in undergrad. I've got a long list of projects to work on. As with anything, though, it's important to have a little balance with your work, so I've also created a list of "distractions!"

1) Score a PR for two upcoming 5Ks on 24th and 31st
2) Clean both bathrooms in our house
3) Get the dog a bath
4) Vacuum
5) Go through old clothes and shoes for potential donations
6) .....Oh, I ran out of distractions.....

Well, that's okay. Other than item #1, the distractions were actually starting to make me more interested in getting back to school work anyways.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Just Doing my Job, Ma'am....

I think I've had a sort of "a-ha" moment this past week. Well, actually, I've had a few of them. I love making lists, so here they are:

1) Being in graduate school is really a job. Unfortunately, you are not getting paid for it, so it's really really hard to think about it as a job. But you are spending a large part of your day working. Let's look at the characteristics of a "job" outside the potential-for-pay aspect. It involves work. It involves stress. It involves deadlines. It involves minimizing distractions. It involves time management skills. It involves an occasional sinking feeling that you may not be able to finish your work by a certain deadline. On the flipside, it also involves a profound feeling of satisfaction when you do actually make that deadline and are rewarded for your efforts. Grad school is all of this. Except instead of getting paid for all of this work, you are actually paying the institution. Hmmm....that just doesn't seem right.

2) You are supposed to feel somewhat overwhelmed. Mentors and professors prefer to call it "being challenged" because it makes it sound like you are struggling for a logical reason. I had a nice conversation with my husband about this because over the past few weeks, I honestly feel like I can't possibly do everything that I am supposed to be doing with school work. And I am a full time student. I don't work. I just sit at home all day and do school stuff (oh, and think about what to write on this blog periodically). Seriously, how is it, I ask myself, that I actually feel swamped when I have nothing else but school work to do? My husband says that this is grad school....this is what it is like to work on your doctorate. It is all-consuming. It is overpowering. And it is sometimes a drag. I constantly have school on my mind. I get up in the morning and one of the first things I do is turn on my computer and log onto Blackboard. Talk about obsessed.

3) In a few months, I will be my own boss. I do wonder what it will be like when I finish my course work and move on to dissertation work. Right now, I have external deadlines from classes. I march to the beat of someone else's drum. What will happen when I have to create self-imposed deadlines?? I'm dreading it already. It's going to be like I'm self-employed and I'm not sure I have the discipline for that, yet! In a sense I can see why there are so many "ABDs" out there (ABD = All But Dissertation). It seems like it would be easy to "take a little break before one starts dissertation work" and then get lost back in the "real world."

So there are my "a-ha's." Or maybe they are "ho-hum's." Better yet, after re-reading it all, perhaps they just amount to bunch of "oh-no's."

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Matter of Speaking

I have a horrible aversion to public speaking. I would even say that the aversion borders on pathological. But, as I am discovering throughout this graduate program, public speaking appears to be an essential component of being a successful graduate student, researcher, and educator. No surprise there, I guess.

I've heard that public speaking rates higher than death on people's list of fears (Wallace, Wallechinsky, & Wallace, 1983). And people have advised me on all sorts of different ways to beat that fear of public speaking. My favorite is to picture your audience naked. Naked, huh? Yikes.

So I've decided to take the bull by the horns and do a crash course on public speaking. I joined a local public speaking/speech group to get over this nerve-wracking, nausea-inducing fear of public speaking. Is it working? Well, I've only done 3 speeches to far and surprisingly, I think that my nervousness has improved a little bit. But is it because I'm speaking to familiar people now? Is it because I speak in the same location all the time? Is it because I prepare up the whazoo to the point where I can actually run 30 minutes on a treadmill repeating the speech over and over without a mistake? Perhaps all of the above? Regardless, I think it's the exposure. Exposure to our fears, as long as they aren't going to kill you (e.g., I have a fear of sharks, but I'm not about to swimming with a Great White just to get over it), can help you get more comfortable with that fear. And, if you experience successes in overcoming that fear (e.g., completing 3 speeches without passing out, puking on your audience, or running screaming from the room), that also contributes to decreasing anxiety related to that fear.

I suppose the true test will be to give a paper or podium presentation at a research conference. In the meantime, I'll sign up for more speeches, get as much exposure as possible, so I can start re-dressing the members of my audience.

Wallace, A. Wallechinsky, D. & Wallace, I.  (1983).  The Book of Lists. New York, NY: Morrow Books.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What a Week....!

And the week isn't even over yet....

But not to worry, it's been a great week so far. I received two pieces of awesome news this week!
Oiselle's Happy Hoodie
1) I now get to run for Oiselle as one of their ambassadors of running. It's a great opportunity to represent a a great company created by and dedicated to women runners of all abilities. And I really mean all abilities. Although I love running, I'm not at all a fast runner. But Oiselle supports all sorts of women runners across the country! How awesome is that? Oh, and did I mention that they have the best running clothes ever?? Check out their running tees and this nifty hoodie just in time for spring!
Oiselle T to celebrate
40 yrs of Title IX

2) Drum roll....NIH/NINR has awarded me pre-doc funding! Yay! That's really good news since I have a couple more years in my program. Every little bit of $$ helps! But even more exciting is that someone out there is interested in my research. That's kind of a nice, warm fuzzy feeling. I'm still navigating the logistics of the grant process, but hopefully I'll figure it out soon.

Whew....I'm not sure the week can get any better than this, but hey, I'm not opposed to a bit more happiness on the horizon!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Wonderful World of Revising Manuscripts

I just submitted a revision for a manuscript that was originally rejected from one journal and that is now teetering on the precipice of another rejection from a second journal. While I am definitely not a world-class revision-ist (that isn't even a word....), I think that I've learned a few tidbits of wisdom along the way.

Regarding Reviewers:
1) Be advised: They don't hate you. They just hate your work. They wouldn't know you if you walked right past them in the street today. Oh yeah, you wouldn't know them either. They could be the researcher sitting right next to you at the next conference. While this was meant to be a comforting thought, it doesn't ever really prevent me from narrowing my eyes at that person next to me....

2) One day you may be a reviewer too. Sweet.

Reading through the Comments:
1) Develop a thick, adamantium skin. Reading people's critique of your work hurts. It's unpleasant, nauseating, and aggravating. A glass of wine helps.

Indy's response to addressing reviewer comments.
2) Once you get over the frustration, anger, disappointment, or general wallowing in a pool of self-doubt, realize that you have been given the chance to try again. The editorial board could have outright rejected your work, but that didn't happen. There was some potential and worth to what you've done and they are giving you an opportunity to generate a stronger product. Don't believe me? A glass of wine may help you realize this point.

Writing the Revision:
1) Take some time to digest the comments. This will allow your anger, confusion, and self-doubt.

2) Copy and paste all the comments onto a new document so you will be sure to address every last sentence of bitter criticism. Sometimes, you find that there are actually 2 or 3 criticisms in one sentence (lucky you!). Do your best to address them all, despite your fascination with how someone can be so cruel in the span of 8 words.

3) Another fun nugget: Sometimes two or three different reviewers catch you on the same issue. This is a good thing. Now you can write one response/revision and use it to answer more than one reviewer comment. Yay!

4) A glass of wine (or 2, or 3...) will help to blunt many of the negative feelings you may have towards the human race in general or towards any individual humans in the immediate vicinity during the revision process.