I’ll start with the best part: Friday, I presented my thesis proposal––and passed! I’ve spent the rest of the weekend being ecstatic. Typically, the response from others follows a somewhat less enthusiastic motif. “Wow, that’s great…what does it mean? Do you start med school now?”
No, I’m not going to start med school anytime soon, but as far as the PhD goes, making it through the proposal process is significant. Getting a PhD is somewhat of an elaborate hazing ritual, in which pledges must prove to a council of five established researchers that they are worthy of joining their ranks. The thesis proposal is a particularly intense Harrowing, in which I must publicly present my intended doctoral work. I must also let the five scientists on my thesis committee that I know what I’m presenting and that I’m capable of completing the work. Passing means I’ve made it through the first level of graduate school, and am now a PhD Candidate. Now all that stands between me and the PhD is…a whole lot of research and writing.
For anyone that’s interested, my thesis (which I’m sure will come up again) explores the relationship between cholesterol regulation and Alzheimer’s disease. My presentation can even be viewed online. Of course, I’d be happy to answer any questions––what researcher doesn’t love the opportunity to talk about their work?
Since I’m MD/PhD, I have four years of med school after that, and we won’t go into the post-post-graduate years of residency. As my friend described it, I’m at the beginning of the end of the beginning: It’s the beginning of the final push toward my PhD, which is itself the beginning of my path through the combined degree program. Regardless, I’m allowing myself some satisfaction. I might even venture to say I’m around 25% complete, and that’s worth celebrating.