:: Non-academic careers::
Practitioners in talk #Part 10
Many roads lead out of the BGHS. But where do paths lead to after the doctorate? In the summer semester, we talk to historians and sociologists who have taken up their profession outside the university. Christoph Karlheim spoke to us about his work as head of the “Innovation & Research” department at the Evangelisches Klinikum Bethel (EvKB).
Christoph Karlheim (second from left) and his colleague Gerrit Eliaß in front of the EvKB’s “Waldlaboratorium”.
Christoph, if you remember when you started your career: How did you find your way into the job?
Christoph Karlheim: During my doctorate, I had coaching advice in order to find out: Do I want to stay in the academic field? Or do I want to get out of science? If you have studied sociology like me and have a PhD in health sciences: What areas are there outside the university in which I can work? And do I want to go there? During my doctorate, for example, I worked on projects in which health insurance companies or the “Landeszentrum Gesundheit” (Regional Health Center) in North Rhine-Westphalia were involved, i.e. actors at the interfaces between scientific and practical fields. Before I defended my dissertation, I then started applying for postdoc positions because I thought: Well, you will definitely find something there. The coaching made it clear to me, however, that I would only accept a postdoc position if I couldn't find anything else. I then became aware that the EvKB had announced a position for a “research officer”. I still work at the EvKB today.
What does your work look like now?
Christoph Karlheim: When I started at the EvKB in November 2016, I had a position as research officer to support actors in the hospital in the application for research projects. In the meantime, this position in the EvKB has become a small department called “Innovation & Research”, in which I work with two colleagues. To give an example: An employee of the hospital has an idea for a scientific research project. Our task is then to find suitable funding institutions or programs, to assist in writing the project application, and to calculate the costs of the project with the departments involved. If I am familiar with the topic of a project – these are primarily health services research projects – I will also contribute to the content of the application. The initiative for research projects can also come from clients who want to carry out clinical studies on the use of drugs, medical devices, other new innovative processes or therapies with us.
What tips do you have for colleagues from sociology or history who are interested in a career in your profession?
Christoph Karlheim: From my perspective, it is very important for sociologists or historians which topics one has dealt with. So, if you have dealt with illness and health as a sociologist, for example, then you are qualified for many activities in this field. These do not necessarily have to be activities that have to do with research. For example, I know many sociologists who work for health insurance companies and who organize, coordinate or take on management and administrative tasks there. So, there are two questions that are important to clarify: What subject area am I interested in as a sociologist or historian? And how can I acquire additional skills in this area? Contacts are also madefrom there: You get them anyway when you are involved in a subject area.
Christoph, thank you for the conversation.
The interview was conducted by Ulf Ortmann
The complete conversation is available here (only in German):