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How to Negotiate for Protected Time


Ten years ago, I started my faculty career as a full time clinician. Although I was 80% clinical, I was seeing patients 5 days a week. While juggling a busy schedule and navigating two children under 3, I worked hard to make the transition from clinician to clinician scientist. The going wasn't just hard, it was near impossible! No one succeeds without protected time. 


Perhaps, like me, you started your faculty career without any research support: You have no protected time, no research startup, and no resources to support your work. If this scenario describes you, recognize that working harder will not get you there. Even when you manage to submit the grant proposal, the reviewers see right through your application. If they don't see evidence that you are supported to do research, they will not recommend your project for funding. It's an open secret -- only those who already have support receive more support. So, should you quit? Maybe. But, instead of quitting, you could negotiate. Yes, negotiate! And no, it doesn't matter how long you have been on the job, you can negotiate what you need at any time.


Negotiate time to advance your research and career by doing the following things:


  1. Get clarity on what protected time will do for you.

  2. Develop a strategic plan for your protected time.

  3. Create a structure to guarantee productivity.

  4. Investigate options to shrink your clinical footprint.

  5. Create your wish list.

  6. Negotiate with your administrative lead.

  7. Stop, rinse, and repeat.


If research is what you want to do, you absolutely should go for it. Don't wait for someone else to gift it to you. In life, the things you value are the things you fight for. What would it take to have the research career you want? Not the one someone else imagines for you, but the one you actually want, doing the research you actually care about? How would that make a difference for you? I challenge you make an appointment with your Division Director to start the negotiation talks this week. Don't wait. Take one step toward the career you want today.


Imagine the results you would create if every quarter, you negotiated just one thing that moved you closer to your goal. What kind of career would you have after just one year of negotiating?


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