The Professor Is In

Karen L. Kelsky is The Professor of TheProfessorIsIn, a Web site that augments Kelsky’s consulting practice as an advisor to advanced doctoral students and junior faculty. She came to my attention through her essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “To: Professors; Re: Your Advisees,” in which she laments the lack of robust professional advising in graduate school.

Or to put it succinctly in Long’s Axiom: Graduate school prepares you . . . for graduate school.

The Web site offers a variety of suggestions on applying for academic jobs, writing, publishing, grant applications and related professional topics. It is now available through our “blinks” section.


New Academic Year

Many readers of NursingWriting (but not all by any means) are associated with academic institutions, where we are engaged in the beginning of a new academic year.

Sunday’s New York Times included advice to new college students from respected professors. Excerpts here:

I would advise students to take a composition course even if they have tested out of it. I have taught many students whose SAT scores exempted them from the writing requirement, but a disheartening number of them couldn’t write and an equal number had never been asked to. They managed to get through high-school without learning how to write a clean English sentence, and if you can’t do that you can’t do anything. I give this advice with some trepidation because too many writing courses today teach everything but the craft of writing and are instead the vehicles of the instructor’s social and political obsessions. In the face of what I consider a dereliction of pedagogical duty, I can say only, “Buyer beware.” If your writing instructor isn’t teaching writing, get out of that class and find someone who is. –Stanley Fish is a professor of law at Florida International University and a contributing columnist to The Times, who has been teaching since 1962.

What the most successful college students do, in my experience, is cut through the clutter of jargons, methods and ideological differences to locate the common practices of argument and analysis hidden behind it all. Contrary to the cliché that no “one size fits all” educational recipe is possible, successful academics of all fields and intellectual persuasions make some key moves that you can emulate. –Gerald Graff, the past president of the Modern Language Association and a professor of English and education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has been teaching since 1963.

Whatever our current travails, we now have a literate president capable of coherent discourse, but too many other politicians are devoid of syntax and appear to have read nothing. Aggressive ignorance in aspirants to high office is another dismal consequence of the waning of authentic education. –Harold Bloom, a professor of English at Yale and the author of the forthcoming “Living Labyrinth: Literature and Influence,” has been teaching since 1955.

Learn to write well. Most incoming college students, even the bright ones, do not do it and it hampers them in courses and in later life. Read what you write to a friend, and ask the friend to read it back to you. Lack of clarity, coherence or shape will leap out at you. . . Read, read, read. Students ask me how to become a writer, and I ask them who is their favorite author. If they have none, they have no love of words. –Garry Wills, a professor emeritus of history at Northwestern University, has been teaching since 1962.

I staggered breathlessly out of that classroom and started down the long unpredictable path to becoming a professor of molecular biology at M.I.T. What I have learned is that passion, along with curiosity, drives science. Passion is the mysterious force behind nearly every scientific breakthrough. Perhaps it’s because without it you might never be able to tolerate the huge amount of hard work and frustration that scientific discovery entails. But if you have it, you’re in luck. –Nancy Hopkins, a professor of biology at M.I.T., has been teaching since 1973.

It’s easy to think that college classes are mainly about preparing you for a job. But remember: this may be the one time in your life when you have a chance to think about the whole of your life, not just your job. Courses in the humanities, in particular, often seem impractical, but they are vital, because they stretch your imagination and challenge your mind to become more responsive, more critical, bigger. You need resources to prevent your mind from becoming narrower and more routinized in later life. This is your chance to get them. –Martha Nussbaum, a professor of philosophy, law and divinity at the University of Chicago, has been teaching since 1975.

Good advice for faculty, too!

You are welcome to leave your own thoughts for new students in the comments section of this blog post.

Online Community: Global Health Nursing, Midwifery

On behalf of Partners In Health, the University of Maryland’s School of Nursing Office of Global Health, Regis College School of Nursing and Health Professions, and MGH Institute of Health Professions School of Nursing, you are invited to join an online community for Global Health Nursing and Midwifery at GHD Online:

This community was created to serve the growing network of midwives and nurses involved and interested in the field of global health. This online community and discussion group will serve as a platform for both online conversation and content sharing. Members can join and post questions, engage in conversation, search content and freely access materials. We hope it will lead to further collaboration and information sharing among nurses and midwives working in global health projects. It can be publicly accessed, so we encourage you to circulate it to other nurses and midwives interested in the field of global health. Thank you in advance for joining the Global Health Nursing and Midwifery Community at GHD Online. We hope it provides a resource for sharing and experience and that it serves to strengthen your work and interest in the field of global health nursing and midwifery.

Please join us now by clicking here:

Podcast: Michele Lamont on the Curious World of Academic Judgment

Michele Lamont, author of How Professors Think: Inside the Curious World of Academic Judgment (Harvard University Press), a study of how scholars and scholarly panels actually engage in review of submissions (like research proposals and grant applications), is interviewed in a podcast produced by Harvard University Press.

A Message from Canadian Healthcare Professionals to Americans

In this video, Canadian physicians and nurses describe the real Canadian healthcare system to Americans (not the cartoon Canadian health care portrayed in some American media and public discourse).

NYU Literature, Arts, Medicine Database

Added today to the NursingWriting “blinks” list is the Literature, Arts & Medicine Database initiated in 1993 by medical humanities faculty at NYU.

This index of literary texts, visual art, and media/performance touches on a broad range of representations of the body, wellness, illness, disease, and the healing professions. New additions and annotations are always welcome.

The searchable database allows you to look for individual authors or artists or for themes. For example, a search of the word “nurse” delivers 282 results. Pre-established keywords are also provided. For example, selecting the provided keyword “nursing” brings the reader to an inventory of four visual artists, 21 films, and dozens of literary texts.

Users still have to find the actual art, literature or media themselves, though in many instances these can be found on line (after some diligent searching).

Nurse educators will find this index useful in helping students explore the complex human dimensions of clinical encounters. Nurse writers will find this index helpful by leading them to sources of reflection and to cultural touchstones.

New NIH Director, New Priorities

Francis S. Collins, physician and geneticist, has reported for duty at the National Institutes of Health as its new director .  According to the Chronicle of Higher Education he brings with him new priorities:

On Monday, he listed for his staff five goals for his tenure as director, including ensuring a “stable and predictable” supply of federal research dollars. . .

Dr. Collins also proposed placing a greater emphasis on the use of advanced technologies in fighting diseases, improving the rate of success in translating scientific discoveries into commercially available medicines and therapies, expanding the involvement of NIH experts in the Congressional debate over the future of American health coverage, and taking a bigger role in helping with international health concerns.

He also suggested that the NIH pay more attention to lowering the average age at which researchers receive their first grants, which is now around 42.

And he spoke about the need to overcome the “herd mentality” in the grants-review process that too often leads the NIH to approve a safer research proposal over a riskier alternative that has a higher likelihood of failure but a bigger payoff if it succeeds. . . .

Dr. Collins left the NIH last year and founded the BioLogos Foundation, which describes itself as seeking common ground between science and religion. Without being prompted, he said he quit the group and promised the science-faith issue “will not interfere with my judgments” as NIH director.