Post 74 My job interview goes catastrophically wrong

Working as a trainee in the Accident and Emergency Medical Department, I treated 3 young lads whose wrists had been broken as they stood with their hands on the barrier whilst

watching a football match.
   Their wrists had been overextended as the crowd behind them surged down the terraces when a goal had been scored.    Subsequently I discovered that these were not isolated accidents;   I had in fact, discovered a reasonably common cause of injury.    Pleased with myself, I wrote a  paper for a learned journal and also spoke at an orthopaedic conference.   I felt confident that as a result my CV would be strengthened and my career prospects enhanced.    How wrong can you be?

At first, things did indeed go well.    At interviews, the panel, in those days invariably male, were intrigued by the mention of ‘Soccer Supporters Wrist’ on my CV and I was able to speak confidently on a subject that genuinely interested them, leaving little time for them to probe for deficiencies in my knowledge and experience.

It was two years later before what I had come to regard as a strength proved to be the very opposite.

This realisation came when I was being considered for a promotion.    My interviewer, who happened to be a University lecturer in psychology, asked me what steps I had taken to reduce the number of such injuries in the future.

For a moment I was lost for words, so she posed the question with greater clarity.

‘You spotted these injuries at a City versus United derby game.   Did you highlight to the two Manchester clubs that these accidents were occurring at their grounds, perhaps suggesting ways in which such injuries could be reduced?     Did you consider whether such injuries were occurring at rugby matches?

There was a long pause, before I managed a reply. ‘Er, well,’ I stuttered, ‘I did publish an account of the injuries in a medical journal.’

‘And do you really imagine that the managers of professional football clubs study the British Journal of the Upper Limb?’ she asked, the sarcasm obvious in her voice.  ‘Did you bring your findings to the attention of the police, or to the Football Association?’

I had to confess that I hadn’t and justifiably  then received a short sharp lecture reminding me that research was conducted for the benefit of mankind - not simply to advance one’s own career!

Needless to say I didn’t get the job!

When I subsequently reflected on my failure, I realised I was not the only one to be so misguided. In

reality, the motivation for many research projects undertaken by junior doctors was to enhance their chances of promotion when it ought to have been to increase knowledge for the benefit of mankind.

It had been a sobering lesson for me, and one I suspect that could usefully be learned by trainees on career ladders in many other walks of life.