Monthly Archives: December 2012

All piled up!

One of the first things I was advised before commencing my PhD study was to create some study space at home.  Being enthusiastic I was very lucky and able to convert one of my rooms into a study/small lounge area. I was pleased that I had created the space that I needed with my computer in one area, I found a place to store my books, and put some nice cushions on my study settee so that I could be comfortable in those moments of ‘thought’ and when reading. I had my CD player in a corner, in case I needed some light music while I worked….. awe, all those good intentions before I started!

One year on I have transitioned into student life and seemed to have forgotten about my tranquil study area!  It was only recently when I realized the whole house had become my study!

The realization came to fruition a couple of weeks ago, when I was getting in bed one night.  I always try and end my day on a positive note, so informed my husband about the best thing that had happened to me that day.  I then asked ‘what was the best thing about your day?’ and my husband replied ‘I can tell you what was not the best thing about my day…..you have now taken over the dining room with all of your books and papers’

Oops!! I went to sleep and when I awoke the next day, there it was, REALISATION, I had taken over the whole house. There was reading material and papers everywhere.

I had siblings and cystic fibrosis literature in the bedroom

Family centred care and qualitative research in the lounge

Several drafts of my research protocol in the dining room, lounge and bedroom.

A computer in the study, with policies and ethics documents dispersed everywhere. All my neat folders I had organized were just strewn. My laptop was in the lounge and my brain! I am not really sure where that was.

I had become so emersed in my work that I was gradually spreading it all over the place and my justification was …well I know exactly where everything is and forbid anyone to move anything.The comment from my husband was the last straw for him.  I had got the message. I needed to get organized, do some filing, tidy up the books and papers and give back the family home. I needed to retreat to the space I had originally created.

I have now begun to tidy up. The study is looking great, sometimes I am more comfortable in the main lounge and I do get restless when I am in one place.

So the new rules are:

Try and stick to the study space and if I do use another room, I must be organized and tidy everything away afterwards to that the PhD does not take over the house.

It is a good job my husband mentioned this to me when I had got to 12,000 words and not 80,000.

Nurse of the year award 2012

I was delighted to be nominated for the RCN specialist nursing award this year. A colleague asked if she could nominate me because she felt that running my nurse led diagnostic, follow up and counselling clinics and leading the service that Breast care patients receive was wonderful. A friend of both of us had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and had experienced the journey through to diagnosis in my clinic and it was at this point that she realised how nurses with advanced clinical skills can make a real difference. She was also nominating me for doing my PhD at this grand old age and being successful in getting a Florence Nightingale research scholarship this year. My nominator put together a very moving, complimentary summary of my achievements to date and why she felt I should receive the Nurse of the year award.

Following submission to the Royal college of Nursing judges, I was shortlisted for an interview and had to present my work and achievements over the last 20 years but especially the last year to a panel of senior nurses, academics and Welsh Assembly government members. Although it was really strange presenting what I had done in breast care since taking up post in 1991 and I felt like I was showing off, it also brought it home to me how much of my nursing career I have devoted to the speciality and what I have actually achieved. The panel were delighted and I came out feeling really positive. A few days later I had a letter to say I was a finalist at City Hall on the 28th November. That in itself was a great feeling and the fact that somebody had taken the time and effort to write a statement about my work and dedication to nursing was amazing. I didn’t realise that there was a winner and a runner up for each category at the awards and in total there were 9 different categories but when I heard this, I was sure I would be the runner up of my category because there is so much extraordinary work being conducted by all grades of nursing staff across Wales and I was so grateful just to be there.

The evening at City Hall was absolutely fantastic. The food was delicious, the company was excellent and there was a very warm friendly atmosphere. The RCN had really gone the extra mile to make this first Welsh Nurse of the Year a real success. Everybody dressed up in their best frocks and the highlight of the evening was Jason  Mohammad the compare. He was both funny and very pleasant to the eye. That said, I’m probably old enough to be his mum! Nevertheless, I found myself queuing with all the other ladies for a photo with him!! My husband definitely saw a different side to me that night!

The real highlight of the night was when they called out my name as the winner of the specialist award. I was truly delighted and overwhelmed. Sheila Hunt and Ruth Walker Nurse Executive Cardiff and Vale were the first to congratulate me and it was great to have them there to see it. I was on a high for the rest of the week and the week ended with our annual breast ball again at City Hall where all my team congratulated me and gave a public announcement in front of past and present patients. This again was an amazing feeling. I could get quite used to the life of being a celebrity!!

I’m in the mood now for winning and so next year I’m hoping that somebody will nominate me for the research and innovation award because anything’s possible!

 

A day of positives

I’m not sure many people actually enjoy speaking in public. As with many things in life, the more you do it, the better you get. But actually enjoying it?? Seems unlikely. So knowing that my name isn’t on that programme list gives me a nice warm feeling inside. I can just sit back, relax, and listen to what other people have to say. However, listen and understand are two very different things, and if I said I understood every part of every presentation during the 2012 PGR symposium I’d be lying. Some of the ideas were far too complex for my tiny, first year PhD brain to comprehend. At times I felt the look of confusion and bewilderment creep across my face that I see so often when one of my friends or family asks me about my ‘course’. Therefore I would never attempt to relay the information from each presentation in this blog entry (which I “volunteered” to write…and which had nothing to do with any coercion applied by Dominic or Katie!).

However, what struck me was the passion and enthusiasm that these people had for their subject. Each of the PGR students spoke with such pride that they had been able to nurture the smallest nugget of an idea into a substantial and original piece of research, regardless of how near (or far) they were to completion. It’s hard to imagine that these people, these researchers, were in the same position as me not that long ago. While I’m still battling with the dreaded ‘imposter syndrome’ and trying to concentrate on what I’m doing, while out of the corner of my eye looking at the door, waiting for security to escort me out of the building because my supervisors have realised they picked the wrong person, these people are well on their way to being called “Doctor”. The realisation that with a lot of hard work and support I can be in their place one day is incredibly reassuring.

Of course those who were not speaking did not get off the hook completely, as many of the attendees had submitted posters describing their research. While it was clear that everyone had put a great deal of work into their posters, a special mention should be given to Laura Goodwin and Abdulrahman (David) Aldawood (oh, and myself) who were chosen by Professor Gareth Williams as the top three. Our reward? An I.O.U. from Katie for an Amazon voucher…which of course we will only use to buy books and other educational materials!

So by any measure, today was a day of positives. The only negative…realising that sooner or later I’ll be one of those up there speaking!

Introduce your research using Quad of Aims

Yesterday I went to an RCBC Wales away day where we had a talk by Mark Hodder from Academi Wales.  He introduced us to a tool to help simplify the requirements of our research and produce a statement of goals that anyone can understand.

The Quad of Aims is used in business under the heading ‘lean thinking’.  Although this is a buzz word which tends to make me roll my eyes in anticipation of jargon I actually found this session very helpful.  The Quad of Aims is a good way to help focus the mind on why your research is being done and can act as a reference point as the PhD progresses.  It may also help me sound succinct when people ask about my work and what the intended outcomes are.

Here is my Quad of Aims for my research.  The quad is broken into four boxes: Purpose, Impact, Deliverables and Success (we were advised to use the deliverables box to plan our work over three 60-day time periods).

Title:  Perceptions of prostate cancer risk in African and Caribbean men in South Wales: Implications for health policy and supportive care.

THE PURPOSE CITIZEN/IMPACT
To understand group perceptions of prostate cancer risk in black African and Caribbean men in South Wales.The groups under study will be African and Caribbean men and General Practitioners in South Wales. Provide an evidence base of current perceptions of prostate cancer risk in African and Caribbean men in South Wales.Provide an evidence base of current levels of understanding in General Practitioners about risk for prostate cancer in African and Caribbean men, and their knowledge of cultural beliefs in this group.
DELIVERABLES SUCCESS
60 (1)Complete literature review.

60 (2)

Write protocol and make enquiries about publication.

60 (3)

Refine protocol and apply for ethical approval.

Success will be measured by: 

A better understanding of the need for education on prostate cancer risk in the African and Caribbean community

Use the evidence to produce a culturally sensitive education tool to advise African and Caribbean men about their prostate cancer risk.