Why would you do a PhD? Reflections of a relieved PhD student


Why would you do a PhD?

As a full time nursing leader working in an acute NHS Trust while pursuing a part-time PhD, I’m what could be described as a ‘rare breed’. I often wish I had more company on this increasingly isolating journey. My feelings of being on my own leads me to ask a few questions, “why aren’t there more doctoral nursing and midwifery students?”, what are the opportunities for those nurses and midwives who have aspirations of pursuing higher education courses, including but not exclusive to, PhDs?” and why would anyone really want to do a PhD?” That last question sticks with me most and has been asked of me by many people when they learn that I study mostly in my own time.

As a #whywedoresearch ambassador, I actively encouraging colleagues and others to maximise their potential and to seize the opportunities that present themselves in their quest to achieve self-actualisation. However, it can feel like a hard sell. I sometimes get strange looks suggesting that some of my colleagues would never dream of pursuing academic opportunities while those who have the aspiration and ability to pursue higher education avenues sometimes reply that they couldn’t see how they could fit it into their already busy lives. That I can relate to. It is a challenge. The work-study-life challenge!

I am now on the verge of commencing data collection following receipt of ethical approval for my study which will explore the hospital experiences of older patients from Black Caribbean backgrounds. Next week, I’ll present at the Research and Development Committee at my hospital to seek further approvals. The ball is rolling – progress indeed!

I’m super excited because it has been a real life changing process of self-discovery to get to this milestone. It felt like climbing Mt Everest at the time. Now, it actually feels like it is a journey that is achievable. I can. I will. Anyone who is or has been on this journey with me can attest to the fact that me feeling this positive about my journey is progress indeed! There have been some dark days. (Huge thanks for the pep talks from Dave and Calvin that helped to keep me going and pick up me when there was one obstacle after another. I still have them on speed dial for the next phase of my journey).

The really satisfying bit is seeing all the planning and replanning and amending coming to fruition. My supervisors have been pivotal and very patient with me and there have been many setbacks along the way including changing jobs, changing employers and changing the focus of my study many times. I am grateful now for the support and guidance of my colleagues in the Research and Development Department (in particular David) for their practical assistance and calming influence with addressing the capacity and capability issues that will enable me to successfully undertake this study.

I now feel like a bonafide research student…after all this time! Finally and it’s great relief, I feel that with all this support, I will complete my research and I will continue to share my story in my interactions with frontline staff, on my blog and on social media to inspire others to take on the challenge as they too grab the opportunities to use their voices so that their patients’ voices can be heard.

Why would you do a PhD?
To change the world and to inspire others to change the world over and over again! Remember, it ain’t easy but it’s worth it and if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. For the fearless and the courageous with tonnes of resilience and bags of sense  of humour! 😊

#LifelongLearning #OnwardsAndUpwards #PhDChat PhDLife

Thank you for all your support. It means so much ❤️oto credit: https://goo.gl/images/szj9SA

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