One of the amazing things about a degree is the ways in which students can find themselves taking unexpected turns and discovering new passions and areas of interest – often involving elements of their subject that they hadn’t considered before.
For PhD student Roses Parker, that unexpected turn came on her PG Diploma in Child Nursing, when it came to choosing an elective module. “I decided to do a research elective, because I thought it would give me diverse experience in an area I thought I would never end up doing once I qualified,” she explains. “I secured a placement in the cancer research team at LSBU, which was a strong interest of mine. It was amazing to see how much effort goes into producing the evidence we base our practice on.”
As part of her elective, Roses was asked to help select some papers for a literature review. “It was an ongoing project, and at the end of the elective LSBU offered me a job as a research assistant to help complete the review,” she says. “It appealed to me because it was looking at children with cancer, and gave me more of an opportunity to see what was involved with being a researcher.”
Staying in academia
It’s a decision that Roses is glad she made. After spending eight months working one day a week as a research assistant, she came to realise that she wanted to do even more research. “My love for research just grew and grew, and I realised that I had a geeky side that wanted to stay in academia,” she says. “It was then that I decided if I wanted to stay in the research world, a PhD was an essential qualification – it had never been part of my plans before. "
With the contacts and experience I had at LSBU, and a role as a research assistant already under my belt, carrying that relationship on and studying my PhD here made perfect sense.
Reducing unnecessary pain
Roses’ PhD – which she is studying for in LSBU’s Children’s Nursing Division – focuses on how the parents of children with cancer manage their child’s pain at home. “My aim is to reduce unnecessary pain suffered by children with cancer at home, but it is an understudied area,” she says. “That means there is a long way to go before I can think about an intervention – I’m just trying to find out what is going on at home. My dream is to pursue the topic beyond my PhD and to eventually develop, test and implement an intervention that reduces unnecessary pain.”
Ultimately, Roses hopes to secure some postdoctoral funding to develop such an intervention, and she knows she can count on the support of her PhD supervisors when that moment comes. “My supervisors are wonderful, and have supported me in lots of ways,” she says. “They’re always happy to help and answer my many questions, and are a great encouragement to me when I feel overwhelmed. They’re good at pushing me and setting targets, and I know that they would help and support me when it comes to researching and applying for funding after my PhD and beyond.”
Studying for a PhD while working as a nurse is a challenge that Roses is really enjoying, and she feels that her research and her practice inform each other. “I test what I read in the literature against what I see in clinical practice, and take questions from practice and look for answers in the literature,” she says. “It’s an exciting position to be in, and I hope many more people get the chance to take on that role.”