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A Reflection – by Jane Davies

Reflection – Year two, Term two

Having just returned from the Easter weekend to begin the final term of year two, I realise how quickly time is moving. I am now half way through the study with writing, data collection and analysis ahead of me. In many ways this has felt like one of the most productive phases of the work to date.

It began in January when I returned after the Christmas break to finalise the R and D approval from the main site for my research. This had been in the only word I can think of a tortuous process, which became more and more frustrating leading up to the Christmas break. I was fully aware that it was going to be difficult but I think I underestimated my ability to cope with just how much energy it takes to get to the data collection stage. I was well supported throughout the process and many people gave advice and helped.

Nevertheless I was given approval at the main site and my research passport was issued, which meant that I could begin the work at the main site. I still had to wait for approval at the subsidiary site, which did not come until April. I met with my contact for recruitment in mid-January who as always was extremely encouraging and helpful. She offered to have a look through the current patient list and then we could discuss who might be a suitable case, taking into account the inclusion exclusion criteria. She soon contacted me saying that she had two possibly three young people who might be suitable for the study. She offered to give an information sheet to those selected and I waited for her to contact me.

I have to say I have been heartened by the fact that the young people approached so far have been keen to take part. I was of the view that this wouldn’t be the case and that I would have trouble recruiting. I undertook my first interview on 3rd February 2014. I felt nervous and unsure of my ability to conduct the interview successfully. I checked and re checked my tape recorder for fear that it would not work to an almost ridiculous extent. I think this was that I realised how precious these conversations were and that I would be unable to recapture them a second time. It went quite well but I am not sure if I probed enough and felt that I probably could have learned more.

Jane blog 2Even though it was only the beginning of February I was already feeling tired. It was good that I had booked a holiday in February and a short break with friends in March as these trips have since re-energised me particularly with reference to data collection. I was advised that data collection would be tiring and that my sample would probably have some stories that I found upsetting. This indeed was the case. I have spent many quiet moments especially when out walking when I have reflected on the difficulties and challenges which face these young people. This was brought to life more than ever very recently. I was on my way to attend an outpatient appointment for a young man with an osteosarcoma who before his cancer had been a keen sportsman. He had required an amputation just above his knee. As I was walking, I saw a young man in the distance who I recognised I had watched playing school age rugby. He is now a professional player who has an international cap and is a first year student at medical school. The contrast in the two situations really struck me and I thought about how their two lives were so different for young men of the same age.

I have continued to recruit cases and now have three young people in the study. My interviewing is improving as I gain confidence. I have also interviewed family and friends of each case which has provided a different but very worthwhile perspective. I still swing between absolute terror and a feeling that I am coping better and understanding more. It is very uncomfortable (the terror aspect) however I am reassured that this is a normal part of this type of study. I am beginning to write reflexive accounts following the interviews and to try and look for key messages in the transcripts. I have used a small number of codes, which are enabling me to identify specific decision making events within each interview. I have no idea what a lot of it means yet but hope it will start to fit together at some point. It certainly occupies a lot of my thinking time!

I have continued to access training throughout this term and have been to some writing clubs, a rapid reading programme and some seminars in SOCSI. I have also made progress in disseminating my work with a poster accepted at a local and international conference. I have also secured a residency in Geneva next year in July, which will provide an opportunity for writing and sharing my work and ideas with others who are also writing for various purposes. This is something that I am looking forward to enormously. I need to stay focused and ensure that when I go to the residency I am at the right stage to really do justice to the writing that I will undertake there.

I am looking forward to the summer term and the experience of meeting with more young people and their families and to developing some more skills in research data collection. I am also going to try and write alongside this when I can, which will include the submission of a paper which I am currently working on.

An Introduction to Marybeth Smith

Hello,

It’s often the case when you work in a large company or institution that you find yourself contacting people whom you’ve never actually met … sometimes even asking them for work! Although I’ve been covering Research administrative duties since the end of November 2013, and I’ve been in post officially since February 2014, it’s still not been possible to meet everyone in PGR. So if I haven’t met you yet, please accept my apologies and allow me to introduce myself …M Smith_pic_PhDays

 

Research Support Officer
My job is Research Support Officer, providing administrative support (or professional services) to the Research and PGR section. The Research support team is still coming together and there is work to be done on clarifying responsibilities and procedures. But in practice, I can assist with:
• Admissions queries
• SIMS queries
• Academic regulations pertaining to PGR degree studies
• Enrolment and Induction information
• Monitoring reviews process – forms, deadlines, required work, organisation of meetings
• Thesis submission and Viva
• Staff-student query organisation
• Finance and equipment queries – as a first point of contact, refer to other departments
• Liaison with UGC, Grad Centre about training and funding opportunities and events
• Letters (of reference, permission to travel, confirmation of registration, etc.)

I’ve actually worked for the School for 18 months, having joined the School of Nursing and Midwifery Studies (SONMS) in November 2012 as an Admissions Assistant (Undergraduate and PGT). Prior to that, from 2005-2010, I worked in the Schools of European Studies, Architecture, and Physics & Astronomy, primarily in Postgraduate.
Quite a lot has changed over that time — virtual learning and working environments, increased collaboration, paperless processes, etc.–and processes and procedures can vary considerably even across Schools within the University.

But much remains the same – especially in the structure of PGR degrees and in the particular nature of working relationships amongst students and members of staff (academic and administrative). And much has also improved. I’ve seen how facilities, resources and opportunities (both academic and social) have expanded for research students over the past decade. Right now we’re looking forward to the expansion in Eastgate House, which will include new and dedicated facilities and space for PGR/Research.

One thing which cannot be emphasised enough is that students need to take charge of their degrees and take advantage of the resources available in the School and throughout the University. In the coming months, we hope that the PGR community will grow and become even more active and engaged in shaping the PGR experience within the School.

Autobiography:

  • Resident in UK since 2004
  • Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA)
  • First trip abroad – to Ireland, six weeks in July/ August (high school trip) – my first lesson in understanding that the British Isles don’t really have a ‘summer’
  • First trip to the UK — study abroad semester at the School of English and American Studies, University of East Anglia, Norfolk 1993 (when Britpop was sweeping the nation)
  • First degree – BA English and history (concentrations in English language/linguistics and medieval literature/history) from Temple University in Philadelphia (a city campus, like Cardiff). Studied Old English and Latin (also know a bit of German and Spanish). Worked in a bakery, a coffee shop, a department store, catering company, and a book store.
  • Further studies — I’ve since done some Postgraduate studies (not yet completed) at Cardiff University in Medieval British Studies. Main interests – early medieval (Anglo-Saxon and Celt) period literature, archaeology, church history.
  • First real job — corporate communications assistant (General Accident Insurance); since then, I’ve been employed in editorial and marketing for an academic publisher (Harcourt); content management for a software start-up (Kenexa); editing, production and project management for a proposal production group (KPMG Consulting ); and as a freelance writing/editing.
  • Taught English to employees of SanofiPharma in Montpellier, France for a semester internship.
  • Own a bass guitar, guitar and a metal detector – not yet proficient in any of them!
  • Hobbies, interests and side projects– writing; genealogy/genetics and social history research; archaeology; travel; live music (Globe, Cardiff Students Union), performances (WNO, Cardiff Philharmonic, RWCMD, etc.) and theatre; books and film;hill walking;visiting heritage sites; lectures and workshops (Cardiff Lifelong Learning does some great ones, but there are history and civic societies as well as national heritage sites that also deliver worthwhile talks); photography.
  • Pets – currently, one tortoiseshell cat named Olwen whom I found living in the garden of my first home in Cardiff 10 years ago
  • Current challenges – growing veg, learning to drive, cycling

Hope to see you soon.

Marybeth Smith

Hello from Wafa

Hello, I am Wafa from Saudi Arabia; I started my PhD study (full time) this April. My research topic will be about “Assessing the Needs of Breast Cancer Survivors in Saudi Arabia”. I believe that this study has the potential to help breast cancer patients break their silence and improve their quality of life.

WafaMy masters degree (MSc. Nursing Science) was obtained from Trinity College in Dublin. Being abroad for the last two years has helped me to become more mature, independent, self-confident and open-minded; especially in terms of change.

When I first started, my feelings were a mixture of panic and excitement. However, with excellent help from academic and administrative staff in Cardiff University, all the worries faded away and I was able to “collect” myself again.

I really enjoyed joining Mrs. Sarah Fotheringham this week on a visit to Fitzalan High School, where I helped to promote nursing as a career. It was an amazing experience to talk about nursing, in Saudi Arabia and in the world generally, to teenagers who came from various different backgrounds. I am looking forward to our next school visit as I believe that nursing is a truly challenging and exciting career option.

Back to Skool II

I met the new group of students enrolled on the Professional doctorate this week. They are all doing really interesting and clinically valuable projects. Although they have two years of taught modules before their research phase, they already have strong research ideas that come from their clinical practice:


Anne Owen: the introduction of the ‘nursing dashboard’ computer interface. evaluating its impact

Sian Lewis: How to improve compliance with dietary advice amongst patients with head and neck cancers following gastrostomy tube insertion

Janice Waters: Developing a tool to identify and assess children with behavioural problems that have a sexual dimension

Suzanne Harris: Evaluating the impact of discharging patients early following surgery

Claire McCarthy: the implementation of a nurse led minor injury clinic- perceptions of clinical and patient populations

Cath O’Brien: Examining the educational needs of trainee pharmacists

Mark Jones: Ensuring evidence based mental health care

Ricky Hellyar: Why haematology patients choose to participate in clinical trials?

Kate Deacon: How can we assess  patients for delirium in intensive care settings?

They asked for my top tips for surviving a phd…..so here they are…

Start writing now and keep writing- the more you do the better you get
Get it written, don’t get it right- we are not interested in perfection
Keep talking to your supervisors
Don’t think of the whole thesis or even ‘chapters’ (too scary), break it down into bite sized chunks that you can manage- from a thesis, down to 10,000 word chapters and in each chapter there could be 5 sections….so think in 2,000 word sections that are doable
It is all about perseverance, so keep calm and keep going….

Katie

Back to Skool

It’s been a busy and successful year. So here are some of our highlights…

  • Dr Sally Anstey obtained her PhD with minor corrections.
  • Amie Hodges and Nikki West were awarded Florence Nightingale Foundation Scholarships to support their part-time PhD’s.
  • Mandayachepa Nyando and Mohammad Marie were awarded £1,250 prize from the University as our outstanding students of the year.
  • Shema Amer was recently honoured by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia as a high achieving postgraduate.
  • Nikki West has been shortlisted for the Royal College of Nursing ‘Nurse of the Year’.
  • Jessica Baillie obtained a post-doctoral position in the Medical School.

We are very proud of you all….

Welcome to our new students starting this year… Marie Lewis, Ahmed Alghamdi, David (Abdulrahman) Aldawood, Ani (Aniawanis) Makhtar, Nasiha Al-Braiki, Laura Goodwin, Dave Evans, Jane Davies, Sarah Fry, and Hama (Hamadziripi) Ngandu.

Well done to all of you for securing funding and also well done to Nasiha and Ani who have also been awarded International Research Scholarships by the University.

We are really pleased that we have been able to extend the PGR suite so that you can all have a desk and will be in the same room. We look forward to seeing your projects develop.

We also have a few highlights to look out for in the coming year….

  • Our new doctoral training programme includes regular seminars and methods ‘masterclasses’ throughout the year (available to download from our main PGR page).
  • 5 of you are close to submission so we are looking forward to a busy graduation next summer.

Your evaluation has put us in the top three of the 25 PGR programmes in Cardiff University in terms of overall student satisfaction. However, of course we want to improve on this, so let us know if there is anything we can do… our doors are always open.

Katie and Rosemary

A (slightly belated) welcome to Ahmed Al-Ghamdi

I am Ahmed Al-Ghamdi, from Saudi Arabia. My country is located in the Middle East between the Arabic Gulf and the Red Sea, with a population of 26,131,703 (2011), which includes 5,576,076 non-nationals. The religion is Islam and the language is Arabic.

I was born in Baha which is located in the South-western part of the Kingdom. Al Baha is a beautiful city and suitable for tourism with an often old climate.

 

 

 

 

 

In 2002 I moved to work in Makkah city. Makkah is the holy city of Islam and the direction in which all Muslims in the world should offer their prayers. The interesting thing in this city is that during the year we have two Islamic occasions, so we receive from three to four million people from different countries. And they all wear the same dress, doing the same procedures, in the same time and the same places.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Therefore, as nursing staff I participate with other health workers to offer good health care during these occasions, including; first aid, clinical, hospital admissions, operations etc. I found it very rewarding and a great experience.

Now we go back to my life story. I worked as a nurse for eighteen years in different departments. Most of my experience was in primary health care services. I tried my best to get a scholarship from the Ministry of Health to study for a masters degree in nursing but unfortunately, the Ministry of Health informed me that at that time they support nurses to study bachelor degrees only. So I decided to study a masters degree by funding myself. It was a difficult stage as I am a father of four and I have a lot of money commitments. But with good planning and the support of my (great) wife I was able to schedule things. So I travelled to Australia and completed a master’s degree in Nursing Administration. After completion of the study I went back to work again.

Then I thought that the masters degree is a way to get a PhD and I felt that if I got a PhD I will reach the levels of a good researcher. I believe researches can contribute to the development of Saudi nursing. I tried again to get a scholarship, but unfortunately I failed due to the same reasons as before. So I decided to resign from my job in Ministry of Health. I had two acceptances to study a PhD from two universities in Australia, but I decided to join Cardiff University to study my PhD for several reasons. The first reason is that I like change because I hold a bachelor degree and masters from Australia. The second reason is that the strength of the Cardiff University system in Saudi society. The third reason is that British education has very good researches, and this is what I want to learn. Now I have got a job in Taif University as a lecturer, so I am a full-time PhD student fully funded from Taif University.

In fact, life here in Cardiff is enjoyable and beautiful. People here are very friendly and they appreciate and respect the different cultures. In additional to that, the beauty of nature that contains the green mountains, rivers, and wonderful beaches.

Finally, I recommend every nurse who wants to study nursing fields to join us in Cardiff School of Nursing and Midwifery Studies, and we welcome you and your questions.