In 2009, a Bournemouth University lecturer commented on one of my better midwifery degree assignment offerings, by suggesting that I should consider studying for a PhD; I was hooked. I finally began on the Clinical Academic Doctorate programme in January 2019. My study is aiming to see if we can identify women who have exaggerated negative thoughts about an actual or anticipated painful experience, that is they catastrophise pain, and whether this has an impact on the time that they are admitted to hospital when in labour and subsequently their birth outcomes. I am following the four-year model so 40% of my time, I work as a midwife at Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and 60% is dedicated to the academic element of the programme. Sticking to the 40/60% work split whilst juggling my family commitments is a challenge. Nonetheless, continuing to be a midwife is important to me and it benefits my studies too.

I am now over a year into my PhD programme and like all previous studying I have undertaken, postgraduate research work follows the same pattern. For awhile I am in a discouraging ‘fog’ with no direction then a path clears and I am enthused and engrossed in my work, then I’m back in the ‘fog’. Determination kicks in at this point, which is necessary for getting back on track. I am optimistic which I think helps during the more difficult challenges of PhD life. For me what will help me get to my end goal is the support of my family, and the knowledge and advice of my supervisors Professors Vanora Hundley and Carol Clark and Dr Ben Parris. Their rapid responses to my questions and proof reading my work has been invaluable.

I chose to undertake a PhD because in the future I hope to continue to work in research and contribute to midwifery knowledge. Research has the potential to add significant benefit to the lives of many women and their families.