I am a 3rd year PhD student and I've already passed my PhD candidacy, but I am not at all satisfied with the degree of training I've received throughout my PhD. I had a stellar undergrad and was offered direct entry into several PhD programs, but I don't think I really knew my subject well enough at the end of my undergrad to be a really successful PhD student. I expected that any lab I'd join would provide an environment where I could learn the routines necessary to complete a research project.
The lab I joined has never had a postdoc and has usually had only 2-3 grad students at any given time, and equipment has invariably been broken. As a result, I haven't had a lot of opportunities to learn from those around me. It seems that it's expected that I learn in a highly independent manner. Somehow, the other students seem to have managed to pull that off, but it appears to be a struggle for them, and it really isn't working for me.
Luckily, I got one high impact publication early on in my PhD, but after that I changed research topics, and I haven't made a lot of progress on my new topic. There seem to be so many obstacles to accomplishing my tasks, both in terms of lab equipment and my personal level of knowledge, that it is very difficult to make any headway on my project. After talking to some friends who went into different labs, I am pretty confident that the lab is the problem. I think I could publish one more paper within a year or two and I suspect they'd let me graduate, but I am worried that I just won't know enough to be an effective postdoc. As far as I understand it, postdocs are expected to be able to set up quickly, figure everything out, and put together a whole project mostly independently. I think the basic problem I've faced is that I arrived with a BSc and was treated like someone with a PhD.
Now I am faced with a decision: do I push through and get the diploma, or do I try to transfer to another lab/school with a better learning environment? Is such a thing even really possible this deep into a PhD program?