I thought I would use this post to explain a bit about my PhD; how I ended up doing one, it’s focus and my progress so far.
How it all started
I completed my BSc in Paramedic Practice at the University of Surrey in July 2012. My dissertation supervisor asked if I had ever considered coming back to do some post-grad work, which I had, but wanted to find my feet on the road as a newly qualified paramedic first.
Then in August I got an email from him saying that there was an opportunity of applying for a scholarship at the University, which would be a shame to pass up. So I took his advice and applied. Initially my research proposal was turned down, but a week or so later I got an email saying that, in fact, it had been accepted (a running theme throughout my life!).
The ambulance service I work for were extremely supportive and agreed to fund half of the PhD (the other half coming from the scholarship). This way I was able to dedicate half of my time working on the road as a paramedic, and half my time at University working on my thesis. I tend to do a week on the road, followed by a week at uni and alternate this pattern. Needless to say, I need to have a very tight relationship with our scheduling department. While my PhD is part-time, I am still a full-time employee of the ambulance service. As the PhD is part-time, I’ve got up to 8 years to complete it, as of 2013.
What’s it on?
My PhD is focussed on the use and impact of prehospital 12-lead ECG monitoring in acute stroke patients. It’s based on the JRCALC guidelines* for stroke, which state to consider performing a 12-lead providing it doesn’t add delay in transporting the patient to hospital. This suggestion is based on expert opinion rather than robust evidence.
Where I’m up to
So far (Jan 2015) I am 2 years into my project. I’ve just finished a systematic review of the literature surrounding the use of prehospital 12-lead ECG in acute stroke patients. At the moment the review has been sent to an international peer-reviewed journal and I’m waiting to hear back whether it has been accepted for publication or not. So, I can’t put the results of the review on here yet, though if it gets published you should be able to read it in the journal!
The next phase of my PhD is to write the protocol for my study. I’m currently planning two studies, one qualitative, one quantitative.
The next step will be to go through my transfer (confirmation). This entails an external examiner who is an expert in your field, and an internal examiner, asking you questions about your work so far and the work you intend to do. As much as it fills most PhD students with fear and loathing, my supervisors have assured me it can be an enjoyable experience and can really help improve your study. Time will tell.
I will also have to go through the process of applying for ethics, then the data collection and the data analysis, finally getting to the writing up stage. I’m sure if I’m still blogging by then that all of these phases will provide absolute gold for stress induced ranting on this blog.
So that’s the story. I meet a lot of paramedics who are interested in research and post-grad work who are always very inquisitive into how I ended doing a PhD, getting funding, support etc. It’s definitely something I’ve enjoyed doing so far, and have no regrets. But there are still potentially another 6 years to go!
*link to 2006 guidelines, not updated 2013 guidelines (which aren’t online!?)