Yesterday, I officially accepted an offer of enrollment into the Duke University Department of Population Health Sciences doctoral program. I will be starting this August. I will be in the Health Services Research (HSR) track with a focus on policy development.
I am hyper excited and a bit nervous. This is going to be a big jump and a big change from a pathway that so far has been working out pretty well for me and my family. I’ll still be at Duke Margolis in some capacity (details to be determined) and I will still be writing at Balloon-Juice (details also to be determined).
Mudbrush had a great comment last year:
Yeah, I do study some insane shit. I find those questions to be utterly fascinating. Occasionally the answers will provide meaningful improvement to peoples’ lives.
I need the doctoral training because right now I am limited. I am able to identify situations likely to produce insane shit that can then generate meaningful and generalizable knowledge. I can connect the dots between policy levers to address the insane shit. I am very good at identifying weird policy quirks and running incentives through to their logical behavioral end. I can identify causal opportunities, discontinuities and promising areas of weirdness. However, I need to rely on my co-authors to perform fundamental magic in the middle with methods more often than not. I don’t think I will ever submit a paper to Econometrica but I want and more importantly need to understand causal inference far better to have the most impact in the next twenty five years of my career.
I chose Duke for several reasons. First, I have been lucky enough to have worked at Duke Margolis for the past four and a half years. During this time, I have had the opportunity to work with and more importantly co-author with a good chunk of the Duke PopHealth department. I am always learning from my co-authors. More importantly, I fundamentally like working with my co-authors who are on faculty in PopHealth. They are all wicked smart and more importantly, good people to be around. I will learn a lot from them. The program is also brand new with one current MD/PhD candidate going through the initial stages, but my cohort will be the first fully recruited cohort. I will be a part of setting the long run culture and that is an amazing opportunity.
Finally, this is a huge shift in life trajectory. My family likes the Triangle. My wife likes it here. My kids like it here. Going to Duke PopHealth means my commute (when we return to campus) is merely several minutes longer than what it was when I went in to the Margolis offices. This is a pathway that will require a tremendous amount of work over the next four or five years (hopefully four) but Duke is the least disruptive means of walking that path for my family.
So any journey starts with a step — and I took that first step yesterday.