Struggle With Letting Go Of Science


I just had a career development meeting and was told the only way for me to realistically move forward is to drop one of the 3 areas I currently work on.  I love all 3 of them: basic science, teaching/mentoring residents and clinical work.

In my gut I know I need to give up the basic science dream since I know it is the one I’m least likely to be super successful in. On principle, I’ve always believed that I will continue to use my PhD skills in addition to my MD ones, and I’m agonizing about the idea of fully letting go of basic science. My toddler brain thinks “I want it all” and my adult brain says I need to make rational decisions.

The person telling me this retold his personal story of regretting having put off choosing for so long. He is now one of the most successful people I know at work, so I trust him. Others have told me I can’t do all 3 successfully, but only now I believe it coming from him. I know I’ll be happy doing the clinical and translational research, but for the last 20 years I’ve told myself the story that I’ll be a basic scientist.

Do I just find bridging thoughts to believe a new story?  How do I give myself permission to make this decision?

It feels so painful – although as an observer I know it’s not meant to be easy. I also feel like a fraud for telling trainees up to this point that I’m going to run a lab one day. They look up to me and a part of me feels like I’m letting them down as well as letting myself down. My brain keeps telling me that “this just sucks”