This post is long and a bit of a rant. You have been warned.
Yesterday I handed in my resignation. I am sad and I am relieved. This job has been a learning experience, although not the one that I imagined when I boarded the plane in July.

I had high expectations for this job. Harvard-Botswana AIDS Institute with a big research engine with links to an even bigger research engine in Boston. My work was to be assisting with paediatric HIV trials associated with IMPAACT. IMPAACT is a massive international research group, supported by PEPFAR and NIH. I hoped to learn how these trials operate in resource-constrained settings. I also hoped to carve out some research of my own. I thought that these were not unreasonable expectations.

What I got was an office.

After six weeks of agitating for work, speaking to the 'big boss' in Boston and emailing various people a colleague managed to set me up with one day of clinical work at a district hospital working in the Paediatric Infectious Disease (HIV/AIDS) Clinic. This work had nothing to do with Harvard-Botswana HIV/AIDS Institute, or research, but it did give me an opportunity to learn about HIV/AIDS treatment in a clinical setting.

What about the research? Well, the IMPAACT trials were struggling to get through ethics review and my independent research was curtailed by a lack of enthusiasm from my superiors. I do not have the knowledge of Botswana's medical system nor the research know-how to set up a research project single-handedly. I am a junior researcher and, almost by definition, need support, guidance and encouragement. What I got were emails from 'busy people' too busy to "take on another mentee", or allow me access to their data for secondary or teritary research questions.

I am stubborn and even despite these set backs I tried to 'make it work'. I let one month become two and then three. I really wanted this to work. And I feel like I pushed every option and opportunity to its limit. It was only going down to Cape Town and the FIGO conference earlier this week that I realised how despondent and demotivated I had become. I finally accepted that I was not only wasting my time in Botswana, but also wasting valuable research dollars on my income.

And so I resigned. My last day is the 30th October.


Veronica said...

Hooray Clare! Good for you. Sorry it had to happen like this, but good things are on their way.

Susan said...

I know how difficult this decision must have been for you Clare. However as someone who wants to make a difference, you have learned a hard lesson about some of the realities of working in the African subcontinent - and the need for a thorough work-up of any research project before putting young, enthusiastic, intelligent people in the field. When you are in the positiion of designing the research, hopefully you'll remember these days.