PhD take 2?

After having to end my attempt at a PhD with the MUSC/Clemson Bioengineering program five years ago, my Clemson supervisor asked me if I’d be interested in going back to finish it.  It was unexpected and took me a bit by surprise.

Going into the third year of the program, work demands had reached the point where I could either continue to get all the testing done in a timely fashion and let the research drag along, or continue with the research and end up getting behind on the equipment testing and all the other work.  Getting behind on the testing would get me and the hospital in trouble with state regulators, so I decided I needed to shelve my PhD ambitions for the time being.

With all of the required course work behind me (I think), my former supervisor seems to think that with a good project I could get the research  and thesis finished in about a year and a half.  I still have to get past the qualifier, though.

So far everybody seems to think it’s a good idea and that I should do it.

As I found out last time, this is a big undertaking that I’m not sure I can find the time for.  Work demands have only gone up over the past five years, and with three new MUSC centers opening up next year they’re going to go up even more.

I probably wouldn’t even be considering the possibility of going back to the PhD if it wasn’t for Connie throwing her support behind me.  Taking on a PhD is basically the same as another full time job (at least), and without her being willing to pick up the things I won’t be able to do once I’m started, restarting the PhD would definitely be a no.

It’s a big decision to make, and there is a lot to think about.

Seminar progress

3 days left to go and I think I’m about half finished with my seminar presentation. Probably won’t be as in-depth as it could be, but I think it will be enough. My audience aren’t exactly experts in the field.
Qualifier is looming big and large and will involve a lot of writing. I also need to write up a fairly extensive literature review as well. Better start hunting. My Pubmed-fu will be getting a pretty good workout and there will be lots of stuff to read.

Seminar topic: Energy imparted

Next week I have to give a presentation for my seminar class.
I decided to dump the one I’ve been working on for the last couple of weeks because I don’t think I’ll be able to throw together anything coherent enough yet using the data I have.
I have a week to finish up my new topic, which is essentially going to be something of a literature review.
Now I have to finish reviewing.

Mining stacks of data

All of the interventional radiology (IR) labs at work are capable of spitting out a report that tells about the amount of radiation used in a procedure. Unfortunately, none of them are capable of sending that report to the PACS system with the exception of the newest units.
That means a valuable source of patient radiation dose information usually ends up archived away on optical disk somewhere. Good archiving, lousy search capabilities.
About a year ago we decided to start collecting the dose info so we could find out about the radiation doses patients were getting from IR procedures. The techs were educated on what information the dose reports provided, and we asked them to start printing out the dose summary sheets, which they’ve been doing for the past year.
Then things started getting in the way and while we were still collecting the dose sheets, no analysis of the data was getting done. Now I’ve got close to a year’s worth of data that I’m finally getting around to entering into a database. It’s a lot of typing and data entry.
It will be worth it in the end though I think. All of this dose information is a veritable gold mine and I think it will tell us a lot about what radiation doses in IR procedures are like and how the machines are utilized.
It’s going to take a while to get all the numbers in, but I’m chipping away at it a month at a time. 4 months down so far for one room.

Entering the busy season

The end of the year is usually a pretty busy time of year for me. Normally I’m trying to get the last of the x-ray units tested before heading into the holidays. Add school into the mix and busy turns into crazy.
Four mammography units, 3 CT scanners, 1 RF room, 1 x-ray room and 1 bone density unit left to test. There’s also a ton of other miscellaneous work stuff that needs doing in between all that.
On the school side, one project for bioengineering class and tests/homework/project for stats class.
Top it off with trying to get my research work going again.
I’ll be glad when the end of the semester rolls around.