A day in the life…

People ask me all the time, “what do you do?”, and for reasons unknown, I never really know what to say to them. I am the Director of Innovation Research for the Center for Resuscitation Science at the University of Pennsylvania, Course Director for the Penn School of Nursing Research/Inquiry-based Service Residency course and an Instructor in the Penn Master of Public Health program. My research focuses on resuscitation science (cardiac arrest, CPR quality etc.), and incorporating innovation into the work we perform at the Center. My teaching focuses around undergraduate nursing research and master’s level public health methods.

But what does that all actually mean? Sounds interesting, at least to me. Just like many people I know and respect, working jobs that sound important and fascinating. I was listening to a recent episode of On Being with Krista Tippet, she was interviewing the author Elizabeth Gilbert, and they discussed this very subject stating, “Every job has boring in it and people romantize jobs — there is this amazing thing I get to do, but it is like 5% of how I get to spend my days.”

Performing resuscitation research and teaching in an academic environment is so much more than the 5% amazing, often much more than I can vocalize. So as an experiment, I decided to list out for one week, what I do on the daily, and in some cases, why. I would love others to also spend a week listing out what they do all day and share it with the world. A big part of not only science communication, but understanding the good work we all do, is communicating it to the masses. So here goes.

NOTE: No day is ever the same, but general themes will begin to appear. Also note: I generally do most of my traveling/lecturing/conferencing in the Fall, and I only teach the public health methods class in the Fall and Spring.

Day 1

I decided to work from home, because I had a lot of work to do and lets face it, I get more done at home than I ever do at work ! Plus, I love the fact that there is no wasted time primping and commuting, I just roll out of bed, and it’s on!

  1. Caffeinated — always #1, #2, or #3!

2. Checked Facebook and Twitter — often #1, but sometimes #2

3. Checked emails — often #1 or #2, but sometimes #3

4. Read NURS research course student blog posts — all 200+ of them! Because, that’s my job as the Course Director and an educator, reading, commenting, and giving feedback & advice.

5. Posted on Facebook, and Tweeted, an article from @CityLab featuring our Mobile CPR Project — Because, #scicomm is vital to disseminating research!

6. Started working on student mid-semester evaluations for NURS 389 course— Because, the summer session goes quick and students need to know where they stand.

7. Checked email.

8. Checked Facebook and Twitter.

9. Reviewed and edited a student’s draft of my virtual reality sudden cardiac arrest IRB protocol.

10. Worked on creating a study recruitment flyer — Because, I need more art in my life! #STEAM

11. Checked Facebook and Twitter.

12. Put laundry away — Because, it helps me think.

13. Tweeted congrats to @NASA for #Juno — Because, its always nice to congratulate others on their successes!

14. Checked email — Because…it never ends!

15. Scheduled a meeting with a student.

16. Gave feedback to one of our research coordinators on a CPR training flyer — it was a really nice start!

17. Checked and read Google Alerts (#CPR, #cardiac arrest, #heathcare & #digital innovation, #virtual reality) and NCBI PubMed alerts (#CPR, #cardiopulmonary resuscitation, #therapeutic hypothermia) — Because #knowledgeispower.

18. Started planning specific aims for a potential NIH R21 study using predictive modeling.

19. Tried to review a student’s draft of the RedCap database for my virtual reality study (see 20).

20. Reset my RedCap password — Because, who can remember all of those f***ing passwords!

21. Deleted emails from Sent and Deleted Items mailboxes — Because, Outlook’s online mailbox size suuuucks!

22. Read a nice Tweet I received from Real Scientists — Because, it’s nice to get a nice note!

23. Repeated #1 — Because, obviously…but this time, trip to a local coffee shop !

24. Bike ride with my kid — Because, #worklifebalance!

Day 2

  1. Checked email.
  2. Checked Facebook and Twitter.
  3. Caffienated — Because, see #1–#3 on Day 1.
  4. Got up and out early for a meeting on predictive modeling and computer simulation— which was subsequently cancelled as I boarded the subway.
  5. Responded to emails.
  6. Worked on my NURS research course.
  7. Worked on a new NURS Innovation course I am proposing at the Penn School of Nursing.
  8. Checked Facebook and Twitter.
  9. Tweeted about #GoogleGlass — Because, keeping up with #innovation is my job! Plus…#scicomm.

10. Prepped presentation slides for a “How to” on preparing a scientific manuscript.

11. Prepped for a meeting with an @NIH program officer on an upcoming R21 grant for bioengineering — Because, that’s the game we play as academic researchers!

12. Pondered other research study ideas for other potential grant opportunities — Because, the ideas never stop.

13. Worked on getting an agreement executed between my university and the company working on my virtual reality sudden cardiac arrest study.

14. Checked email.

15. Scheduled a meeting with the new Philadelphia Fire Commissioner — Because, community partnerships are important and it takes a village to improve outcomes from sudden cardiac arrest.

16. Communicated with students.

17. Registered for the Dreamit Health Futures Forum at MedCity CONVERGE — Because, you have to put yourself out there, network, and learn!

18. Tweeted — Because, social media is also about promotion of partners and events. #scicomm

19. Had a meeting with the Mobile CPR Project team — Because, getting a program off the ground is a team sport and requires all hands on deck.

20. Lectured — Because, who doesn’t like teaching students new things?

21. Checked email.

22. Checked Facebook and Twitter.

23. Checked and read Google Alerts (#CPR, #cardiac arrest, #heathcare & #digital innovation, #virtual reality) and NCBI PubMed alerts (#CPR, #cardiopulmonary resuscitation, #therapeutic hypothermia) — Because, #knowledgeisstillpower

24. Met with the student working on my virtual reality cardiac arrest study; reviewed IRB documents and began submitting the proposal — Because, research requires approval to protect subjects.

25. Reviewed a manuscript submitted to a resuscitation journal — Because, you have to give back!

26. Talked to NIH program officer about the R21 grant application. Was encouraged to consider an SBIR/STTR grant — Because, business and academic research collaborations are key to innovative solutions and solving problems.

27. Researched SBIR/STTR Request For Applications (RFA) due dates — Because, you go where the money is!

28. Continued work on virtual reality IRB proposal — Because things always take longer than expected (as of this time, still not submitted!).

29. Checked and responded to emails.

30. Checked Facebook and Twitter.

31. Left to go see the premier of the Secret Life of Pets thanks to my sister and her orangization Red Paw Emergency Relief Team — Because, family comes first! #nothingmoreimportant

Day 3

Today was a good day! Today was a day that makes me love what I do for a living! Today I went up to BrickSimple and tested out a demo version of my #virtualreality sudden cardiac arrest module. This will be used for a research study testing lay bystander response. But first…

  1. Checked email.
  2. Checked Facebook and Twitter.
  3. Caffeinated.
  4. Picked up my colleague and drove to the land far, far away — Because, that is where my VR developer’s office is located.
  5. Played with the virtual reality module — Because, you have to make sure your intervention is working! :)

6. Drove home, a really long way!

7. Went to a local coffee shop to do some work — Because, #23 from Day 1.

8. Checked and responded to emails.

9. Checked Facebook and Twitter.

10. Worked on the virtual reality study.

11. Checked and read Google Alerts (#CPR, #cardiac arrest, #healthcare & #digital innovation, #virtual reality) and NCBI PubMed alerts (#CPR, #cardiopulmonary resuscitation, #therapeutic hypothermia) — Because, #knowledgeisstillpower

12. Drafted new Augmented Reality research grant idea — Because, inspiration comes from playing and collaborating.

13. Checked email and responded to email.

14. Confirmed attendance at the American Heart Association Emergency Cardiovascular Care committee meeting in September.

15. Confirmed my first invitation to give a Key Note lecture in October at the Health Safety Institute conference — Because, I have to spread the good word of resuscitation science!

16. Checked Facebook and Twitter.

17. Posted to social media — Because, #scicomm.

18. Went through old emails to see who I needed to follow-up with — Because, a good 5–10% of my week is spent following up with people who don’t respond.

19. Showed my kid and wife the video of me trying out the virtual reality cardiac arrest module — Because, why wouldn’t I, it’s so cool!

20. Hugged my kid — Because, she said it was so cool and she was so proud of me!

21. Was going to do work on the Intro to Computer Science (CS50) course I am taking, but decided I needed to show my solidarity and participate in the #BlackLivesMatter protest in #Philly! Because, #BlackLivesMatter

Day 4

  1. Checked Facebook and Twitter.
  2. Checked email.
  3. Caffeinated.
  4. Called in for a Liberty City Democratic Club sub-committee conference call. The call ended up not taking place, but who doesnt love a cancelled meeting?
  5. Responded to emails.

6. Sent reminder email to faculty for the NURS research course— Because, everyone needs a little reminder every now and then.

7. Checked Facebook and Twitter.

8. Checked email.

9. Checked in with colleagues.

10. Continued writing up student mid-semester evals, it took all day — Because, see Day 1 #6.

11. Submitted time sheets for our part-time research assistants.

12. Renewed Fall 2016 work study student jobs. — Because, who doesn’t love working with work study students? They are great!

13. Finally able to review the virtual reality RedCap database that my student worked on creating — it looked good!

14. Scheduled a conference call with a wearable device company to talk about a potential SBIR/STTR research grant — Because, innovation and collaboration is where it is at!

15. Renewed American Heart Association membership — Because, there is power in numbers.

16. Checked email.

17. Checked Facebook and Twitter.

18. Posted to social media pages — Because, #scicomm!

http://remarkablechatter.com/dr-raina-merchant-penn-social-media-lab-social-media-health-steamrollrs-special-edition-stem-everyday-46/ #WomeninSTEAM #WomeninSTEM

19. Achieved emails — Because, my mailbox was full, again, and I “may not be able to send or receive items.” #thanksalotoutlook

20. Checked and read Google Alerts (#CPR, #cardiac arrest, #healthcare & #digital innovation, #virtual reality) and NCBI PubMed alerts (#CPR, #cardiopulmonary resuscitation, #therapeutic hypothermia) — Because, #knowledgeisstillpower.

21. Talked to a colleague at the Penn Center for Innovation, about SBIR/STTR research grants.

22. Scheduled meeting with Penn UPstart to discuss the potential creation of a virtual reality CPR training company.

23. Caffeinated, this time at Starbucks — Because, Starbucks makes the world go round!

Day 5

Note: This week was a short week due to the July 4th holiday, so I am including work done over the weekend as Day 5. I have been consciously working hard on my work-life balance, significantly decreasing the amount of work I do at night and on the weekends. I am not opposed to working at night and on the weekends, in fact there was a time when that was all I did, but now as my kid is getting older, and I am getting older, I would much rather hang out with my family and friends. Because — who looks back and says “I wish I worked more”, not this girl!

  1. Checked Facebook and Twitter.
  2. Checked email.
  3. Caffeinated.
  4. Hung out with friends — Because we are having to make a hard end-of-life for our dog and as a grown-ass adult, that is what you have to do. Note: We did end up having to put our dog down this week, it was the hardest thing I have had to do as a grown-ass adult. #verysad
Photo Credit: Peggy Jackson

5. Did chores — Because its the weekend!

6. Worked on Intro To Computer Science (CS50) course — Because, I believe in life long learning and that I should at least have a basic knowledge of programming. #EverythingIsCoding #ResuscitationGeek

7. Worked on Key Note lecture currently entitled: The Science Behind Saving A Life — Because, the organizers read my The Huffington Post piece of the same title and asked me to focus the lecture on that area. #scicomm works!

8. Checked Facebook and Twitter.

9. Worked on the second of two lectures, this one focusing on using innovation to improve outcomes from cardaic arrest, for the Health and Safety Institute conference — Because, I love talking about cardiac arrest and innovation!

10. Fretted about starting to prep for fall NURS and PUBH courses — Because, that’s what I do, I fret — and teaching a good course takes preparation!

11. Checked email.

12. Checked out #PokemonGo and pondered it’s use for resuscitation projects — Because, I am very interested in #AugmentedReality and the use of innovation to improve outcomes from sudden cardiac arrest. Plus, you should also jump on cool bandwagons! :)

13. Stopped working on the weekend — Because, Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest!