The Leap from Nurse to Nurse Researcher

My PhD research aimed to explore the palliative care provision experienced by patients with non-malignant respiratory disease and their caregivers throughout rural and urban areas in the North and South of Ireland. In order to achieve this I interviewed bereaved caregivers and conducted focus groups with healthcare professionals involved in the care of this client group throughout the island of Ireland. I am currently at the stage in my research where I have collected and analysed all my data and I am now writing it up for my thesis.

My journey as a novice nurse researcher exploring an area of nursing that I am greatly passionate about has been an extremely enjoyable and rewarding experience, however it has not been without its challenges. The transition from nurse to researcher is a complex one and I often found myself thinking what’s next? What direction am I going in now? What do I need to do and how do I need to do this? Coming from a profession that encourages team work, I sometimes found myself feeling alone and missing the presence of my nursing colleagues around me. I quickly learnt that the key to not feeling isolated or overwhelmed was the one thing that had been drummed into me throughout my undergraduate degree and that was the importance of communication. Talking with other PhD students and sharing my fears and concerns with my supervisors helped me to navigate through my PhD and I learnt to take a deep breath and take one step at a time.

I suppose what I am trying to put across is that the jump from being a nurse to a PhD student can be a daunting prospect. When I decided to go down the research route I felt like it was a leap of faith into the unknown but it is a road that I have never regretted taking. Someone once asked me, why do we do research? I think for me that answer is simple, to help the patients, families and carers that depend on us to provide them with the care they deserve. So I would encourage any nurse out there who has an idea to improve practice or an interest that they would like to explore, do it. Delivering evidence based practice is at the heart of our profession and there is no better way to ensure you are contributing to evidence based practice than by taking part in much needed novel research.

Clare Mc Veigh PhD student 

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