Things they didn’t teach in medical school: Part 22 Project Management #TEDMED

Something not taught in medical school is project management. Although at medical school you might undertake assignments and similar activities, unless you are allocated a research project it is unlikely you will have any formal instruction in project management. I, in fact, don’t consider myself to be especially good at hands-on project management and work better as a collaborator on projects rather than running them directly. Project management is related to time management. You an think of time management as about managing your time to do projects and visa versa project management is a about completing tasks on time.

It is important first of all to recognise a project when it is either handed to you or you come up with the idea.

For me the simplest definition of a project is any activity that can be broken down into smaller tasks to produce an outcome which is more than the sum of the individual parts. Using this definition a project may be small e.g. preparing the meeting roster for a year or large e.g. designing a new medical school curriculum.

There are some tips for managing a project:
– really identify what the purpose and aim of the project is and visualise how the finished project will look – what are the deliverables
– estimate the resources you will need and the time you will need
– identify who is critical to your project – for example, if you need statistics advice for a research project get it early
– break the project down into the smallest tasks possible and work out what in what order they should be completed (and which tasks depend on another tasks being completed – a dependency)
– identify what will stop the project from being finished
– based on the above decide if your project is feasible or not
– identify stakeholders and collaborators
– once the project has started have a regular review process to check progress

Last night at the opening session of TEDMED 2013 Professor Rafael Yuste spoke about the relationship between pursuing big science and his passion for mountaineering. He broke them both down to 3 steps: assemble the team, map the course and keep the summit in sight. The scientific summit he plans to climb is the Brain Activity Map now known as the Brain Inititiative which was announced by Barack Obama 2 weeks ago. This is the moon project or human genome project of the decade. You can see him talk @TEDMED

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