Off Campus: Humanities Scholars In Alt-Ac Careers

Episode 1 with Dr. Polo Camacho, bioethicist in the wild

April 20, 2022 Kino Season 1 Episode 1
Off Campus: Humanities Scholars In Alt-Ac Careers
Episode 1 with Dr. Polo Camacho, bioethicist in the wild
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode, I interviewed Dr. Polo Camacho, a philosopher and bioethicist currently working as a Program Manager and Health Ethics Education Promoter at the Center for Practical Bioethics in Kansas City.
You can find Dr. Camacho here:
You can email the podcast here:
Also on Twitter: @OffCampusPhDs
Music credit: Robert John - Changes

0:00 Intro
0:52 Grad School
4:24 Fellowship at the Spencer Museum of Art
8:36 Transitioning into Alt-Ac
14:25 Current Work at Center for Practical Bioethics
26:54 A Typical Work Day
29:53 Learning More About This Path
34:52 General Advice on Alt-Ac
36:44 Ending

Kino (host): [00:00:01] You're listening to Off Campus, a podcast about humanity scholars in the alt tech world. I'm your host, Dr. Kino Zhao. This is episode one, where I interview Dr. Polo Camacho, a philosopher and bioethicist. In this episode, I ask Dr. Camacho about his experience transitioning from graduate school to an alt-ac career, as well as what that career is like on the day to day.

Kino (host): [00:00:31] Dr. Paulo Camacho received his PhD in philosophy from the University of Kansas. His research specialty was in the philosophy of biology and bioethics. Currently, Dr. Camacho works as a program manager and Health Ethics Education Promotor at the Center for Practical Bioethics in Kansas City. Hello, Dr. Camacho. Welcome to the podcast.

Dr. Polo Camacho: [00:00:55] Thank you so much for having me. Happy to be here.

Grad School

Kino (host): [00:00:58] I like to ask you a little bit about your graduate school experience and then transition to what you're doing today. I like to start with graduate school. You received your doctorate in philosophy from the University of Kansas. What made you decide to go to philosophy grad school in the first place?

Dr. Polo Camacho: [00:01:19] This was maybe 2010, 2011. I was enrolled at the University of Texas at El Paso [as an undergraduate]. I was interested in philosophy and reading a lot of philosophy, and I suppose I just didn't want it to come to an end. I knew I would be graduating in 2012 and I was thinking of how to continue doing philosophy or researching philosophy. And so after speaking with some of my mentors who, they encouraged me to go to graduate school and to apply to graduate school. And so I think ultimately the motivation for me to go to graduate school, the initial one anyway, was I just I didn't feel like I was done doing philosophy, so I wanted to keep doing it. And so that's what ultimately led me to apply to different programs. And I wound up doing a PhD at the University of Kansas.

Kino (host): [00:02:12] Did you think about careers after grad school at all when you first started? Did you think maybe you would teach?

Dr. Polo Camacho: [00:02:20] No, I didn't, actually. I was more just interested in philosophy generally. I was really attracted to topics in Husserl and phenomenology and wanted to read more about that. And I was interested in the philosophy of time, the philosophy of physics, and just had a wide range of interests. And I felt like I wanted to continue reading and learning. And so, no, I don't think I ever thought about a job, at least not initially. That didn't come into light, you know, [after I] started in the program and started learning more about different career options after the PhD.

Kino (host): [00:02:59] It's definitely the same [for me]. I didn't think about careers until it was in the horizon and I had to actually start doing it. But you ended up settling on bioethics and philosophy of biology. What attracted to you about that topic?

Dr. Polo Camacho: [00:03:14] As I was enrolled in graduate school. I took a class with who would later become my dissertation advisor. His name is Dr. Armin Schultz, who does work in the philosophy of social science, philosophy of biology, philosophy of economics. And I took a class on the evolution of cognition, and that was essentially my very first introduction to specific topics within the philosophy of biology. And I latched on and reached out to him shortly after the class ended and took an independent study with him in the philosophy of biology, the philosophy of developmental biology, and then ultimately did my master's under his supervision and continued on that route and eventually became interested in principles guiding the use of biotechnology, assumptions that are made in these spaces as these forms of technology are being implemented and used. And so that's what ultimately flung me into issues that intersect between philosophy, biology and bioethics. And that's ultimately what I did my PhD in.

Fellowship at the Spencer Museum of Art

Kino (host): [00:04:25] You also took, I don't know if it counts as a detour, but you worked at an art museum. Can you tell me a little bit about that? What got you into it? What did you do?

Dr. Polo Camacho: [00:04:34] Sure. I had been working at the university's writing center for a short while to try to get a little extra money. Someone had alerted me to an opportunity at the Spencer Museum of Art, which is the research museum associated with the University of Kansas. And one of the curators there, the senior curator for works on paper and assistant director, was going to be holding a an exhibit on the relationship between humankind and the plant world. And the description for the fellowship read that they were looking for either a history of biology graduate student or a philosophy of biology graduate student, and that when I saw that, I was like, that is exactly what I'm doing. I just felt like it was a perfect fit. And so I applied and I was got the fellowship. And so that's how I ended up working at the Spencer Museum of Art. It was an immediately sort of applied setting. I was able to take many of the ideas, many of the concepts that I'd been learning about within the philosophy of biology, and think about how those ideas might manifest within a museum setting, which I guess for our purposes is a setting that isn't academic philosophy.

Dr. Polo Camacho: [00:05:55] So that was my first taste in developing programming around philosophical ideas. That's sort of where it started and what we did was we worked on an exhibit that explored the relationship between humankind and the plant world. And so it was a team effort. Many of us were looking at different works of art that challenged ideas within the sciences or philosophy of plant biology. And I was responsible for holding a symposium there inside of the museum, which was really cool because, you know, normally when I had, at least my experience up to that time was whenever you'd go to a conference, it was like a classroom or something like that, a large sort of building, a conference style building. But it was really great because I was able to, with other people there at the museum, create programming around a symposium that featured not only people in the humanities and the sciences working on plant biology, but also artists, poets, that sort of thing. And that's how I started and that's what I worked on while at the Spencer Museum of Art.

Kino (host): [00:07:02] So was it like mostly research that you did? [Also] a little bit of event organizing? What kind of day to day work did you do?

Dr. Polo Camacho: [00:07:09] At the Spencer? I was continuing, so I was still enrolled in the PhD program. It was a graduate fellowship that sort of supported in lieu of a ship or to the fellowship would support my working at the Spencer Museum of Art on programming related to the exhibition in addition to my own research on the side. So it was like I was still a graduate student doing graduate work, writing dissertation chapters, trying to get published, doing extensive research for for my own ends, and then at the same time planning museum visits, organizing meetings with artists, people working in the humanities, natural history museums. The cool thing about that work was specifically with regards to working in the works on paper area at the Spencer Museum of Art is that I was able to when I was finished writing a paper or doing edits on a paper, I could then turn around and help them with a lot of their works on paper. So you could effectively finish edits on a dissertation chapter and then walk three feet away and check out a Rembrandt. Pull it out for some undergraduate students who were there checking it out for an art history class. And so that was sort of the day to day. The programming was a little bit more involved in that, it required more planning, more programming. Ultimately, that's where I got my first taste in doing programming.

Transitioning into Alt-Ac

Kino (host): [00:08:32] And you now work as a program manager. Can you tell me a little bit about when you first started thinking about maybe you don't want to pursue a standard tenure track job, or did you try that as well as as alt-ac options?

Dr. Polo Camacho: [00:08:50] I suppose, you know, there is a lot of talk about, like, say leaving academia, right? The way the question is typically framed is, you know, if you were considering the academic route, what caused you to sort of depart from that? I suppose for me, I was encouraged early on by many of my professors to think beyond the academic route and not so much because as we know, the job market is difficult. It's incredibly strenuous, especially for people who are on the job market for a while. But I was encouraged to cast a wide net early on, think about the possibility of practicing philosophy outside of academia rather than 'leaving academia'. So that's something that I had some really great mentors early on that encouraged me to think about that and many of my colleagues at the University of Kansas to think in terms of how can you take the skills that you're learning during your graduate career and apply them outside? So that's something that was instilled in me early on. And so I think that's ultimately how I approach the job market is I thought about the various ways in which I might be able to use the skills that I learned in a completely different setting. And I think working at the museum gave me that initial exposure as to how I might do that specifically.

Kino (host): [00:10:03] That sounds very wise advice because, you're right, people always talk about are you staying in academia, applying for a tenure track, or are you leaving academia and applying for other things? And I've always thought like, they're both jobs, so why wouldn't you apply to all of them and see which ones you like and which ones are better? And then make a choice [afterward]?

Kino (host): [00:10:23] How did you start? Where did you look?

Dr. Polo Camacho: [00:10:26] I think what ultimately prompted me to look was the feeling of precarity, the increasingly sort of like stressful feelings that I started to get as I was finishing. I started thinking to myself, well, wow, I think I guess I have to start looking for jobs now. You know, up until that point, I was so focused on, if it wasn't graduate work, it was publishing; if it wasn't publishing, it was submitting to conferences. And so. I think there came a time where I just felt the impetus to apply. The great thing about working at the University of Kansas as a graduate student is that we received a lot of support, internal support from faculty and staff on preparing our materials. And so that was really, really great. And so every year a team of faculty at the University of Kansas would reach out to graduate students and say, you know, if you're applying to, if you're planning on applying to the job market, this is the time to attend these meetings. And so various faculty and staff from the University of Kansas would hold meetings with graduate students on how to prepare a CV, how to prepare various documents that you might need, how to prepare a statement of purpose. And then if you're looking for specific jobs, like a tenure track versus a teaching job versus a research job, the various strategies you might want to deploy in those cases. And so as my time at the University of Kansas was coming to an end, university staff was really great about reaching out to me and saying, Hey, we know that you're in your penultimate year of funding. Let's take a look at your CV. Let's take a look at your graduate materials.

Dr. Polo Camacho: [00:12:00] And I was really, really grateful for that. And that's where I started building my dossier, my application materials, everything to apply. So that's where it started. And then given that I was applying not only to academic jobs, but to jobs which I suppose would be considered outside of the academic academy or outside of academic philosophy, I then started looking at specific requirements for those specific applications. So many places would ask for a resume instead of a CV. Some places wouldn't ask for a statement of purpose or letter of interest. It would be just a standard application where you would insert your interest in the position and how you feel you might fit. As I saw various positions that weren't necessarily academic philosophy, I would then look at the kinds of resources that I would need and approach faculty at the university and say, how do I apply for this job? It's not a tenure track or research position. It's like a nonprofit position, a program coordinator or program manager or community leader or something like that. And so I leveraged my experience working with staff at the university on application materials, as well as people outside of that. So working at the Spencer, I made a lot of really great friends who advised who were working in the museum in the capacity of like a, an exhibition coordinator or community leader, program coordinator, education manager. And I would reach out to them as well and say, you know, I'm applying for these positions. What do you think? And they would give me their input as well and provide feedback on my application materials. That's how I started applying to these jobs and how I got resources for playing these jobs.

Kino (host): [00:13:40] That sounds incredibly valuable with the support. I've gone to a few sort of career workshops where people help graduate students look for careers outside the academy, but many of them are science related. So here's how you can do science outside [the academe]. And there is very little resource for the humanities.

Dr. Polo Camacho: [00:13:59] Right. And as you were saying, I think in a previous conversation we had is, you know, graduate students need more advice than merely just learn coding, right?

Kino (host): [00:14:12] Yeah. There's a lot of re-education. You know, you can compete with people [who haven't] done six years of Ph.D.. [I would say,] yes, I can, but I would prefer not to.

Dr. Polo Camacho: [00:14:22] Right, right.

Current Work at Center for Practical Bioethics

Kino (host): [00:14:24] Can you tell me ,just very specifically, how did you find and then finally land the job that you currently have?

Dr. Polo Camacho: [00:14:31] I you know, during this incredibly precarious time, I was on a lot of different job search sites, everything from LinkedIn to Inside Higher Ed to PhilJobs. I mean, I had a billion tabs open on my computer with different positions that I was looking at. And I noticed that a position here at the Center for Practical Bioethics popped up. And I had been, I forgot what website it was specifically, but I saw that the job had been posted the day before, and this particular website showed how many applicants had applied for that position. And I think I was the first person to apply. So the strategy for me was sort of like omnivore style. Look at every job search site you can and, you know, just cast a pretty wide net in terms of where you're looking. And I applied in January of 2021 after a series of interviews with Center staff. I got the job and I've been here ever since May of 2021, so almost a whole year.

Kino (host): [00:15:35] Can you tell me a bit about what the Center for Practical Bioethics does and your role in it?

Dr. Polo Camacho: [00:15:40] The Center for Practical Bioethics is a nonprofit freestanding bioethics center in Kansas City, Missouri. That's where I'm currently located. Sort of an interesting bit of history about the Center is that it was founded by a lawyer whose name is Mary Beth Blake, a philosopher of medicine Hans Uffelmann, and a physician, Karen Richey. And I suppose the impetus behind the founding of the center is that it's grounded in the idea that patients' voice matters, and that it should be promoted within the health care system, and most importantly, that things need to be done in practice concretely in order for this to happen. So the center played a really, really big role in the execution of the Patient Self-determination Act. That's a law that requires systems, hospital systems, to communicate and provide information about advance care planning to patients. Specifically, my role here at the Center for Practical Bioethics is, I'm the program manager in health ethics education promoter. A lot of the work that I do supports programming related to things like clinical ethics, end of life ethics, shared decision making, advance care planning. I manage Caring Conversations, which is a program that helps people identify their preferences within health care and also communicate those preferences to family and friends and document them so that those preferences can be honored in the event that they lose decision making capacity or become severely ill.

Dr. Polo Camacho: [00:17:08] I also manage help manage a program called T-Pop, and that specific program supports a the use of a form that's a medical order that goes beyond Do Not Resuscitate. It's sort of the same underlying principle as Caring Conversations. It's intended to promote a patient's preferences when it comes to severe illness in the form of a medical order. I also support educational programming, bioethics educational programming for health systems all across the United States, whether that's in the form of webinars, lectures, I work with Center staff to help create that programming and even ethics consultations at hospitals. So we support that here at the Center as well, and I play a role in that. And then finally, I'm a project team member in the Ethical A.I. Project. My role in that project specifically is to help mobilize community members, bring their voices into discussions about how to create more ethical AI. So that's a whole lot. But that's what I do here at the Center.

Kino (host): [00:18:11] I'm not a bioethicist, but if I were a bioethicist, it sounds like exactly the job I would be dreaming to do if I go into bioethics. How similar do you think it is between your current job and what you were trained for in graduate school?

Dr. Polo Camacho: [00:18:29] There are a lot of similarities and differences between what I was doing as a graduate student and what I'm doing now. I suppose some of the similarities are in terms of the research. So I'm still doing research independently as a philosopher slash bioethicist, and I'm interested in a wide range of topics, things like end of life ethics, palliative care ethics, Latino ethics, Latino bioethics, various issues that arise within the Latino community related to health care. And then I also do researching it for the center, because a lot of our programming requires that we have a really firm understanding about things like CPR, things like medically assisted nutrition and hydration, various other topics. And so I suppose one of the similarities is the research. I was doing research sort of in the capacity of a graduate student on various topics in the philosophy, biology and bioethics. Before and now I'm still doing that. We've had a webinars on the ethics of chart noting the ethics of non-adherence and non-compliance within health care and also the role of expertise. I'm still writing a lot. Each month, the Center, for various affiliate organizations, we write what is effectively a newsletter for health systems that serves as an agenda setting item for hospital ethics committees. We explore a wide range of topics things like the cost of health care in the United States and the bioethical issues related to that medical futility and how that looks like. I'll write about specific cases that come up. Center staff and I are involved in writing that. So that's another similarity, is it's a whole lot of writing still, which is great because I feel like that's writing is sort of like a muscle that as you continue doing it, you become more familiar with it. And so I'm really happy about that.

Dr. Polo Camacho: [00:20:13] The difference is, I would say, between the work that I was doing as a graduate student and what I'm doing now is I'm learning a lot about the sort of policy, administrative and like legal barriers to concepts that I studied as a graduate student. So since I'm working in sort of the applied space, I'm becoming more and more aware of the sort of legal barriers to things like shared decision making and advance care planning. These these are ideas that I studied before, but I had no idea how they manifested in the real world until you get the phone calls. Right. Another thing is the difference between when I was working as a specifically graduate student, I didn't get a lot of experience doing program management or project management or coordination. And so that's something that I'm doing now that I wasn't doing back then.

Dr. Polo Camacho: [00:21:05] I would say, finally, the learning is different. Whereas before I was learning in seminars, I was learning and having as I was having conversations with other grad students who were interested in similar-ish topics to whatever it was I was working on. I would say the learning, at least now for me has been experiential. As I talk to different health systems, hospital systems, you discover a lot of things and you know, center staff here, clinical ethicists, end of life ethicists here, sort of elucidate certain things for me and say, you know, this case that we encountered last week had to do with this and this and that. And so they'll extrapolate ethical considerations from cases that are actually happening. So, for example, it's one thing to read about the concept of medical futility in a bioethics textbook. It's quite another thing to get a phone call from a doctor who has a patient that's 80 years old on a ventilator and wondering whether the ventilator is helping them at all and whether they should be taken off of it. So I would say that is probably the biggest difference is the learning is more experiential and on the ground.

Kino (host): [00:22:09] Just to put it in terms of knowledge and skills, because everybody's talking about transferable skills now, you're still using the research skills, the writing skills, and maybe a little bit of the teaching [and] presentation skills. The difference is like maybe coordination, project management that you didn't really pick up in grad school, that you have to develop now. Are there other skills that you didn't pick up, that you have to develop on the fly or before you start or as you're doing the work?

Dr. Polo Camacho: [00:22:41] You know, I think that the biggest thing and this is something that's, I think, unique to many people's experiences in graduate school is the fact that, like when you're when I was in, I'll speak for myself. When I was in graduate school, I was responsible for my seminar papers. I was responsible for my dissertation chapters. I was responsible for grading student papers, preparing a syllabus if I was teaching an independent section. Whereas I think now working at the center, I'm learning how to work with other people on the same project. That I think is the biggest difference and the biggest sort of gap for me personally. So working here, I had to learn in order to get a project off the ground. I can't just hunker down at a café, open up my computer and do edits, which is something that I do still. But I had to learn that, you know, in these contexts, everyone plays a role in the success of a particular project or program. So gaining that experience, working with others. Even though I during my graduate time at the University of Kansas, I certainly had opportunities to do that. And I think that's what has been the most valuable for me now is understanding workflow, understanding the fact that roles and responsibilities matter when you're trying to, you know, I mean, honestly, it's one of the things that I hated when I was an undergrad, which is team projects, right? You know what I'm saying? And so that then I scoffed at team projects because I was like, I'm probably, especially if it was in philosophy because it was like a very small minority of the people doing the actual work. But I've now learned that that's incredibly valuable. Workflow is valuable roles, responsibilities are valuable, and that's all integral to the success of a program, a project that you're working on, whether it's related to philosophy or not.

Kino (host): [00:24:33] Yeah, I also hated group work. I think that is probably, for people who end up going to graduate school are probably the same people who put in a lot of effort in undergraduates and really hated it and also in some sense lacking maybe the social skills to try to get other people to do the work. And I think in philosophy, and probably true in many other the humanities, that co-authorship is rare and teamwork is rare. I only need me and my books and I don't even need physical books. I don't even need to go to the library. I just need me and my computer and the internet and I can get work done.

Dr. Polo Camacho: [00:25:12] Exactly. Open those PDFs up, right? Open those books up on the computer, go to a café, get your favorite cup of coffee, whatever your pastry. Just sit down, hunker down and work on this paper. And it's, you know, it's nice, it's comfortable. It's comfortable. It's much harder working with people, but it's also, it can be a really wonderful thing.

Kino (host): [00:25:31] Yeah, I think one thing that I am noticing now that I sometimes have to work in teams for organizing events and stuff, is the improvement really in work style? I think when I work alone, I can afford to have terrible work habits. I can work 5 minutes, get up and do something, kind of, way different, and come back [later]. Or I can do three things at the same time. I can not keep track of progress. And if I lose progress, that's kind of my own problem that I can deal with. But working with others, it really forces me to be more, I need to be clearer about division, clearer about markers of achievement and credit attribution. And so I think a lot of it is that it forces me to face the fact that I haven't had very good work habits in the past.

Dr. Polo Camacho: [00:26:28] Right. Yeah. It's like you can get up in, if you're working on a paper, you can go, I like to work in the living room or I like to work in the dining room and I can get up and make myself a sandwich and come back whenever I want and finish my project. But if you're working with people, it's like, there's a timeline, there're roles, there're responsibilities, they're responsible for things that depend on other people doing their work. And it's, yeah, it can get complicated for sure.

A Typical Work Day

Kino (host): [00:26:54] It sounds like your work currently is pretty varied. You do a number of different things, but can you maybe describe to me what a typical workday is like?

Dr. Polo Camacho: [00:27:06] Sure. And I can describe what today was like. So let's see. I got up this morning, my wife and I made our way to Kansas City because we both work from in Kansas City. We live in Lawrence, but we work here. I came into the office and I had a 930 meeting with a an in-home hospice care that was hoping to develop an ethics committee. We met with them and our clinical ethicist here at the center. And we had discussions about what it was going to look like disseminating bioethics, educational resources and what ethics consultations were going to look like in that particular case. Then shortly after that, I was confirming upcoming webinars with different lecturers here at the center. Each month we have what's called an Ethics Committee Consortium webinar, where we feature cutting edge research by bioethicists. I did that today. I created some prioritization criteria for a community based participatory research project, and I was doing that. And then I think at some point I realized that I wasn't going to be able to heat up my oven pizza because the oven here isn't big enough. And so I think I went into the kitchen, the work kitchen, and was disappointed because the oven was too small. And so then I just ended up eating trail mix and cold coffee anyways. Then after that I set up a coordinated with a community based organization here. We're currently working on thinking about partnering to build a sort of shared. Decision making programming for the Latino community in Casey. And so I coordinated with them and were talking with them. And I think now I'm talking to you. So that's that's what my day's been like. But it's very sort of varied. It's a lot of different things happening at once. But yes, it sort of goes back to the point you made earlier, which is there's there's a lot of different things happening. Yeah.

Kino (host): [00:29:04] That sounds exciting. Speaking for myself, the one reason early on that I was resistant to looking into careers outside of academy is that my impression is that they're all 9 to 5 jobs where you go in and then you do the same thing for 8 hours and then you log out to do the same thing the day after. And I really liked the variety in academia. Certainly that comes with the blurring of work-life balance and boundaries. But I enjoy being able to take a break on a Wednesday morning if I don't feel like working, but I can work Saturday afternoon if I feel like working then. So it's good to know, it's important to know that there are jobs that have even greater variety than academia out there.

Learning More About This Path

Kino (host): [00:29:53] If someone listening to the podcast finds what you just described interesting, like they have never heard of anything like this before and this is their first time hearing something about this and they want to know more. How do you advise them to proceed?

Dr. Polo Camacho: [00:30:09] So I suppose I should say, though I'm working in alt-ac, I'm certainly no expert. So anything I say must be taken with a fairly large grain of salt. But I'm happy to talk to anybody who is interested in learning more about the field of sort of applied bioethics. As I understand it, given my admittedly limited experience working in this area. And if anybody is listening, here's my email address. It's As I said, I don't know much, but I'm happy to share information about my experiences working at the Center and my experience with project management, program management, and also my experience looking for alt-ac jobs. As I said earlier, I casted a fairly wide net, but it's not so much that I cast a wide net as much as it was [that] I was looking for things that intersected with what I was already interested in. So yeah, there are a lot of different things that I'd be happy to discuss, whether it's participating in an IRB clinical ethics fellowships, which don't which don't necessarily rely on a sort of like research institution or research affiliation, community based organizations, community based ethics, that sort of thing. So listeners are free to contact me if they want to.

Kino (host): [00:31:24] Thank you. I'll definitely put your email address in the show notes later. When we chatted earlier, you talk to me about some careers that are different from what you do now, but philosophers of biology and also the other people with humanities training may be interested in. Can you tell us a little bit about those?

Dr. Polo Camacho: [00:31:43] Since I started working at the center, I've been exposed to a lot of different. We have a clinical ethicist here at the center and what his role here is, is he provides ethics consultations for hospitals, health systems all across the United States. So he works with health systems in Nebraska, New Orleans, Kansas City and others. I can't really think of the others off the top of my head, but essentially what that looks like concretely is, you know, if a hospital system is dealing with a particularly thorny ethical issue, he helps provide ethical insight as to what the next step should look like, what ought to be done. And so for that specifically, if someone is thinking of going the sort of clinical ethics route, which, again, I don't know a whole lot about, but I've had some experience at certain capacities with. But there are clinical ethics fellowships where you can essentially learn about how to practice applied bioethics in a clinical setting. And so there's there's certainly that IRBs institutional review boards I currently serve on one there are various jobs associated with that. One of the individuals that helped onboard me to a an IRB was a part of the hospital system and they are an IRB manager. In fact, they're an incredible IRB manager and they're responsible for holding meetings, ensuring that all of the members receive the contents, the research, and assigning secondary and primary reviewers. And in those contexts, you can really apply your experiences in ethics, bioethics, etc., because you're looking at research design and you're looking at cases, right, or proposed research, and you look at things like informed consent. You look at things like the language that's in the informed consent document, whether or not the research study is going to harm people. More than that, it is going to help people, different things like that. So there's certainly work being done in sort of the IRB realm.

Dr. Polo Camacho: [00:33:47] And then finally, if people are interested in medicine or have a background in medicine, you know, serving in a hospital ethics committee, University of Kansas Medical System, there's a history and philosophy of medicine program with a lot of nurses, doctors, social workers, I believe, as well, who are really interested in ethics and who want to essentially help build and develop hospital ethics committees. And so there's that route as well. So and then finally, you know, there are at least speaking in terms of like bioethics and how that might cross over into other areas, nonprofit organizations that focus on health advocacy and community based research, community based design, that sort of thing. I'm currently the center is currently working with a community based organization that has their own model for community participation. And they we partner with those systems and they have departments or maybe not departments, but they have, I guess, I suppose, programming that centers on health advocacy, health navigation and that sort of thing. And so there's always there's work being done there as well that share some crossover with bioethics, certainly.

General Advice on Alt-Ac

Kino (host): [00:34:52] What advice do you have for graduate students or fresh PhDs or freshly graduated PhDs in the humanities who are thinking about pursuing careers?

Dr. Polo Camacho: [00:35:02] I'm by no means an expert in this area, so everything I said must be taken with a grain of salt. But from my own experiences, I found that applying for fellowships outside of philosophy in graduate school helped a lot. I know in my case, the fellowship that I applied to while at the University of Kansas was incredibly helpful in that they were looking for someone doing work in the history and philosophy of biology. But I think that I suppose I'd encourage people to apply for these fellowships in hope and look for positions that intersect with what they're working on and their research interests. For example, you know, if you're like a philosopher of paleontology, like a natural history museum might be having my associated with the university might have fellowships, right? If you're into aesthetics and the philosophy of art, you know, then an art museum might be might they might have a fellowship that you're interested in that focuses more on program management and project coordination than, say, research. Right. You know, more broadly, if you're interested in like, I guess, any specific topic as a graduate student looking for these fellowships outside of your department and sometimes departments will advertise them on behalf of other departments or other organizations within the university. And so I would say for sure, taking advantage of that, I guess what I'm saying is that if you have the time and the bandwidth, because that's another thing to write. You know, some of these fellowships would be hosted in addition to the workload that you have as a graduate student. So that's a really big part of it, too, is if if a graduate student has a bandwidth, has a time and they're able to do it doing stuff professionally outside of your graduate work that relates to what you like, that's probably the biggest piece of advice that I would give.

Kino (host): [00:36:44] Thank you, Dr. Camacho, for joining me and for sharing your experiences.

Dr. Polo Camacho: [00:36:48] No worries. Thank you so much.

Kino (host): [00:36:55] Thank you for listening to our first episode with Dr. Paolo Camacho. I have been your host, Kino. You can find me on Twitter @OffCampusPhDs or email me at I'm always looking for suggestions of guests to invite questions to ask and topics to explore. I'll see you next time.

Grad School
Fellowship at the Spencer Museum of Art
Transitioning into Alt-Ac
Current Work at Center for Practical Bioethics
A Typical Work Day
Learning More About This Path
General Advice on Alt-Ac