Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a growing global health problem. Ghana shares in this chronic disease burden besides endemic public health challenges. Effective self-management could lead to optimal glycaemic control and improved quality of life. It is crucial for individuals living with T2DM to adhere to self-management guidelines, including healthy eating, exercise, medication, glucose monitoring and foot care to prevent diabetes complications. However, proper self-management, mainly taking place at the patients' homes, is a problem. It is imperative to develop and test self-management interventions, such as the nurse-led mobile phone intervention. In this trial, nurses reach out to some T2DM patients on their mobile phones at the comfort of their homes to deliver individualised education and counselling as a supplement to the usual care while a control group receives only the usual care. The main aim is to compare changes in glycaemic control between these patient groups.
My project is funded by the Medicine, Health, Life Sciences and International Office PhD Scholarship
What is your ideal Research outcome?
My ideal research outcome is to make an impact in diabetes healthcare research. Clinician and patient telecommunication, called telemedicine, is a budding avenue for optimising chronic disease care. Therefore, my research findings could highlight the potential of nurse-led mobile phone interventions in promoting diabetes outcomes in resource-limited settings.
Dr Gillian Prue and Dr Gillian Carter
Why did you choose this PhD and why at Queen’s?
Giving it back to nursing education and impacting patient care through nursing research has been my primary career motivation and drive. I ventured into a nursing academia career in Ghana some years ago after completing a masters degree in clinical nursing in a sister university in the UK. However, to thrive in academia and competently teach, supervise and mentor nursing students, a doctoral degree cannot be overemphasised. Thus, the PhD nursing programme at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen’s University Belfast, is necessary. Queen’s is among the best higher educational institutions in the world, producing world-class researchers and leaders. I have experienced the excellent academic staff and the state-of-the-art academic infrastructure and resources and can therefore look no further to a place for doctoral studies.
How have you been supported at Queen’s?
As challenging as doctoral studies in the UK can be for an international student, Queen’s has supported me tremendously. I was awarded a full-tuition scholarship and bench fee support throughout the entire duration of my studies. I have also benefited from hardship grants at-need and other grants towards conferences and workshops attendance.
I have access to outstanding and very supportive research supervision, study materials and a well-equipped workstation. Within the school and the university, there are excellent training workshops, seminars and masterclasses on critical topics such as quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods research designs and analyses, academic writing, oral and poster presentations which are fundamental to nascent research apprentices like PGR students. In terms of networking, none is left out at Queen’s. I am in constant contact with fellow doctoral students within the School of Nursing and Midwifery, collaborating and sharing ideas and experiences in our diverse but connected healthcare research projects.
In what ways have you developed at Queen’s?
From when I started my doctoral journey at Queen's to date, I have developed remarkably. Thriving under excellent and very resourceful supervisors and mentors, there have been massive improvements in my research competencies, especially in randomised controlled trials. I have received several positive feedbacks on my academic writing skills, and I owe that to the School's tutorial sessions for students who have English as a second language.
The Graduate School have several programmes targeting students' development all round. I have attended sessions on oral and poster presentations, critical thinking, time management and other interpersonal and organisational skills, and overall, I have developed my confidence and competencies in these areas. Although highly rewarding, the PhD journey can be burdensome to navigate, impacting the individual's mental health. As a regular attendant of the School's wellbeing and mindfulness sessions, I have developed calming strategies in handling daily events while remaining focused on the day's business with clarity.
Can you describe the postgraduate community in the School and at Queen’s?
The School of Nursing and Midwifery's postgraduate community is diverse, comprising of students from virtually every continent. Regardless of the different cultural background, students are knitted into one cordial and respecting unit with members supporting each other. For instance, there is a PhD Buddy system where new students pair with continuing students to assist them, especially during their early PhD period. I see this peer pairing as mostly beneficial because it offers clarity and direction at uncertain moments.
Where do you hope your PhD will lead?
Since I had already begun a nursing academia career a few years ago, I intend to follow nursing teaching and research in a higher educational institution after completing my PhD.
Anything else you would like to add or advice to new PGR students?
To all new PGR students, I would say to explore Queen’s and develop yourself along with your doctoral thesis, ask for help and embrace constructive criticisms from staff and peers.