Tuesday, 13 November 2012

My PhD Experience

Posted by Annette Payne

The world of ‘The PhD’ was a complete unknown to me, one I never thought I would be part of until a ‘casual’ conversation in 2010.

I remember in 1988 waiting for my GCSE results thinking I would be lucky to pass any…..I ended up with 10!! Don’t get me wrong they weren't ‘A’ grades but they were C and above and got me onto my A-level courses……

I remember in 1990 waiting for my A-level results thinking I would be lucky to pass any…. I ended up with three!! Don’t get me wrong they weren't ‘A’ grades but they got me into university…….

Never an A-grade student

HANG ON! HANG ON! There is a theme here!! I'm now 40 (coughs) and can look back on my academic achievements (BA Hons, BSc Hons, Dip He, PGCE, MSc in case you’re interested) and see that I have finally found myself academically. I was never an ‘A’ student and always having degrees of shock when I academically achieved. I still don’t class myself as an ‘A’ student. Ask if I'm clever I’ll say no (my basis for this is I hate trivial pursuit, am rubbish at geography and can’t really speak any foreign languages apart from my bad hybrid Greek). BUT I have gained a few qualifications along the way. 

I was approached about doing a PhD in 2007 to which the polite version of my response was NO WAY!! I had just completed a three-year part-time MSc in two years while working full time and the thought of any other study, never mind the elusive PhD, was not on my to do list!!! The seed must have been sown however, because in 2010 I ventured over to Sunderland University for a ‘casual’ chat with the Professor of Nursing. I walked away with the offer of a PhD ringing in my ears. I remember my journey home that day so clearly. The words ‘oh my goodness I'm doing a PhD, I’m doing a PhD’ were being chanted non-stop in my head. I wasn't entirely sure how it had happened but from that moment, so began my PhD journey.

The reason for my shock was twofold. Firstly I never believed I was capable of completing the study required for a PhD - again not thinking I was clever enough. Secondly I was totally taken aback at the ease at which I was offered my PhD and the surprise the Prof demonstrated when I questioned my ability.

So after 12 months of work-up I finally registered in Feb 2011 and am now heading at speed towards the end of my second year. To my amazement I've sailed through all of my reviews, received a highly commended for my research at a nursing conference, had a couple of poster presentations, achieved some success with funding and had national interest in my research all of which without actually having any results. I've received my postal surveys back and have my first interviews scheduled next week OH MY GOODNESS I'M DOING A PHD!!!

As I said at the start of this post (my first by the way) the world of the PhD was a complete unknown to me and one I never thought I would be part of but I am now fully immersed in it. I can negotiate the bureaucratic process, the on-line library facilities, the studying alongside a full time job while having a life and finally realise I am quite bright (although still maintain that I'm not classically intelligent) but I have I think learnt how to study. My PhD has shown me that if you enjoy, or even love, what you are studying you can achieve as much as you desire. When I was at school my choice of subject was restricted (funnily enough I had little interest in learning Russian) and I think my academic attainment reflected this. As my academic career has progressed my choices on what I study have broadened and therefore so has my academic attainment and self-belief. You may ask why at the age of 40 (coughs) am I so determined and excited to complete my Doctorate?? The answer to that is very simple I long to be Dr A Payne. Mwhaaha haa ha ha (evil laugh).

1 comment:

  1. I've just started my Phd at Sunderland Annette. If you ever want a coffee or a chat, get in touch. I agree that doing what you love is the best motivator in the world, and makes you view any obstacles as temporary blips in your journey to becoming Dr Evil!