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Emma Pascale Blakey is from Oxford and became a research student at Oxford Brookes in January 2016. Her thesis title is ‘Optimising the role of the nurse in reducing unplanned readmissions to hospital among people aged 65 years and over’.
I was born in Oxford and grew up in a bilingual family with French and British parents so I feel European. I left Oxford in 2001 for a few years only coming back in 2013 to start my nursing degree – in between I lived in York, London and Madrid and also spent some time in Thailand and Uganda.
I studied for my nursing degree (BSc hons) at Oxford Brookes University between January 2013 and December 2015.
There was an exciting opportunity to be part of the Oxford Institute of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Research (OxINMAHR), where I would be able to continue with clinical work whilst also carrying out a PhD with a scholarship I obtained.
Before becoming a nurse I worked in a variety of roles: For the National AIDS Trust as their World AIDS Day assistant, as an MSc student in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. After this I worked in health promotion roles in a Primary Care Trust, a local authority and charities and community groups. I also worked in Madrid in a community group and worked on a short research project. When I moved back to the UK I started my degree in Nursing.
The transition to research student has been both a challenging and exciting experience. It is very positive that I am based in OxINMAHR HQ where I have access to academic and pastoral support and an encouraging working environment. I have PhD student colleagues here and we regularly meet to discuss each other’s projects and ideas which is so valuable. We are also extremely lucky to have visiting Professors and Scholars at OxINMAHR who come from around the world to deliver inspiring lectures and workshops. I have also been fortunate enough to attend one of the OxINMAHR writing retreats where over three days we have the space to write an article or chapter alongside peers and supervisors. This retreat is a fantastic experience and it also means we have regular feedback throughout the stay.
Readmissions to hospital within 30 days of discharge continue to rise in the UK and internationally especially among people aged 65 years and over.
Returning to hospital can have an impact on the health and wellbeing of the person coming back to hospital and their care givers or loved ones. It can also get in the way of other care being organised in hospital and is costly to the NHS.
Many different things are said to cause readmission to hospital, for example, problems with the care received during the initial hospital visit or because more support was needed once the individual had left hospital.
At the moment we do not know enough about this from the perspective of people being readmitted by themselves. We do not know much about how people aged 65 years or over experience being readmitted to hospital nor what is important to them.
This study aims to address this by interviewing people who have been readmitted to one Hospital Trust in England. They will have the option of being interviewed in hospital or at home. They will also have the possibility of suggesting the researcher speak to other people that are significant to them. They will also be asked to show any paperwork or information they were given by the hospital when they first left.
I love being able to read, think, and discuss issues that are central to nursing theory and practice, and that are influential to patient care. As a clinical academic I understand research in the context of clinical work. Simultaneously I can reflect on my clinical work in light of the research and evidence I read. Being in this position is an absolute privilege and I very much enjoy it.
However, there are challenges to combining research with clinical work and I have to be extremely organised to ensure I can fit both roles in. I give myself the time to plan weeks ahead as soon as my clinical rota is made available to ensure I can achieve my PhD deadlines. There is also a need to focus when I am working on the PhD as I may not be able to come back to it for a few days. I have had to try a variety of different techniques to quickly get past writers block – things that help me include chunking my time and giving myself short periods where I shut off all social media and emails and just focus on the task at hand. Once I have done a few 30 minute blocks I find that I get stuck in and can continue. There are times when nothing seems to work so then I try to focus on more administrative tasks or update my online reference system. Coffee is also a must throughout!
I have been able to access a variety of workshops at Brookes, in particular I found the sessions delivered by the specialist healthcare librarians useful in understanding how to access different sources. The specialist librarians have also been invaluable at helping with my literature searching. The session on managing stress during postgraduate studies and relaxation techniques have also been helpful.
OxINMAHR have also provided workshops including how to develop and maintain a social media profile as a doctoral student which was particularly interesting to me as someone who is interested in communicating research via social media. This session was delivered by an expert and enabled me to discuss the best ways to remain professional and relevant using these platforms.
At the moment I am enjoying this phase of being a clinical academic. In the future I would love to be able to use both my clinical and research skills in a role. The exact nature of the role I am not sure yet but I know that there will be many exciting possibilities in nursing! Working in a different country also appeals to me and I would enjoy using my language skills and seeing nursing in a variety of different contexts.