Sometime ago I realised I wanted to not just deliver evidence-based practice, but also have the knowledge and skills to develop and deliver research.
“I wanted to undertake research to challenge existing practice as well as work within and contribute to a research rich environment, which would lead the way towards achieving excellence in patient outcome and healthcare.”
I took the opportunity to apply for funding which had become available to all staff within our NHS Trust, and to my surprise I was awarded it and was able to undertake a PhD. I had identified opportunities in a national NHS England project which I had led on for my NHS Trust that deserved further inquiry and research. My PhD project focused on improving physical health for patients with severe mental illness. I reached out to a supervisor at Aston University and sought advice from my managers, all of whom were fully supportive and provided their guidance and time. I was also honoured to be awarded a 50th Anniversary Prize Studentship by Aston University.
I started a part time PhD in 2017 and continued my role as a Senior Mental Health Pharmacist working part time. The PhD research has used qualitative research methods and thematic analysis. The exploratory qualitative research phase has involved interviews with patients, carers, care professionals (including doctors and nurses) from both primary and secondary care, and pharmacists. There has been a focus on understanding the role of pharmacy and the provision information about psychotropic medication and care for physical health.
Reflecting over the last four years as a clinical academic, I would say to those wishing to embark on a PhD is that a PhD is essentially a training degree to acquire a new set of skills to answer a research question and beyond to solve problems in clinical practice. Not only technical scientific skills but also positive attitude and resilience.
“Find something that you are interested in or passionate about then apply grit, perseverance, and willingness to become an expert at it. Collaborate with those whose work you respect but those who are also kind.”