School of Nursing and Midwifery

Gary Toman

Gary Toman


  • BSc(Hons) Biological Sciences (QUB) 2:1
  • MA Scholastic Philosophy (QUB)
  • BD Divinity (St Patrick's College, Maynooth) 2:1
  • STL (St Patrick's College, Maynooth)

Country of Origin: Northern Ireland

Research Cluster: Cancer Nursing, Supportive and Palliative Care

Research Title: "End of Life Care: A Dignified Response"

Description of project:

This study aims to systematically explore and explicate the meaning of ‘dignity’ and its application to policies, procedures and protocols pertaining to care of persons at the end of life.

With particular regard to the examination of relevant English language documents, books, journals, policies, procedures and any other related literary and documentary material of various media types this study will elucidate the philosophical and historical development of the meaning of dignity and to augment what may be missing from the present discussion regarding its use. Objectives: Using a methodology suggested by the work of Alasdair MacIntyre, a historical analysis using Lebech’s historical framework and a philosophical analysis using Sulmasy’s axiological inspired approach will seek to discover:

  1. How the word ‘Dignity’ is currently understood.
  2. The Historical and Philosophical development of ‘Dignity’.
  3. How it is understood in the context of end of life care.
  4. How a refreshed understanding of dignity can help us to tackle particular issues pertaining to the care of the dying person?

Your experience of studying at QUB

I find myself in somewhat of a unique position in the School of Nursing and Midwifery. I am not only a PhD student but also I am also one of the Chaplains to the University. This provides for a different student experience. I now get to experience at first hand what I had only heard from PhD students over the years. Each student experiences the journey in a slightly different way but each of us can recognise the high points and low points; we may start out not quite sure what we are doing and slowly find our place in the great academic scheme. There is a balance between the daily work and keeping an eye on the final goal. The University and the School in particular has provided different levels of assistance on my journey in these studies. I appreciated the offer of a mentor, and the induction days helped to begin to orientate me to the very different expectations associated with this level of study. The postgraduate office of the university, research and postgraduate support team within the school, and supervisors play a very important role in helping us settle into the studies and keeping us right with administration of the various "'milestones".  I have found the library staff and learning development staff very helpful and highly recommend them to any new student. I have been on this campus for 10 years and I am delighted to be experiencing the student support provisions that have developed over that time (especially the help of the Chaplains!). It is tough to be a PhD student but this University and School have helped to make the journey a positive one and one I would recommend to any student that has a passion for this level of research and study.