Here I am, as many times before, faced with a blank document. Ready to be filled, ready to embrace my thoughts. Except now I am not bound by the rigour that usually characterises my writing. Without the reassuring structure that comes in the form of IMRAD (introduction, methods, results, and discussion) and the detailed reporting guidelines (CONSORT, PRISMA, RECORD, STROBE) – I feel somewhat lost, but also liberated. Strangely, also more apprehensive about others reading my work. Hiding behind the regimented nature of manuscript-writing feels safe and comforting. But here I am, stepping out of my comfort zone to start a new chapter as a KI Careers blogger. The first step of this journey for me is to say hello and introduce myself.
So, who am I? I would say I am a jack of all trades. I studied medicine, but chose to go into research rather than work clinically. Did a lab-based Bachelor’s project, but haven’t entered a lab since. My PhD involved conventional, network, and individual participant data meta-analyses and a clinical trial, but my first postdoc used observational data in the form electronic health records. Whilst my PhD focused on a very common and widespread disease (osteoarthritis), my postdoc work examined a rare disease that few people have heard of (bullous pemphigoid). What does this say about me? I like to think that it shows that I enjoy learning new things and taking on challenges.
And so in the midst of the pandemic, I embarked on my biggest challenge to date – moving to Sweden and starting as a postdoc at KI. Being Swedish (well, half-Swedish), my friends have all labelled it “returning home”. But after a lifetime abroad, including 13 years studying and working at the same institution in the UK, everything feels new and unfamiliar. Things I had taken for granted, such as Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) in research, are far from my daily work nowadays. PPI is a topic I am passionate about and something that will feature heavily in my blog posts.
I will draw on my past experience in the UK, my current experience as a postdoc at KI, but also what I plan to achieve in the future. Since initially drafting this introduction, I have accepted a position as Medical Advisor at the Swedish blood cancer patient organisation Blodcancerförbundet. A new chapter (change is good, right?) focusing on patients. But more on that later…