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PhD Student: Inspire Me

UCL Careers13 November 2014

As part of our #UCLInspireMe series, Claire Mawditt, PhD student at the department of Epidemiology and Public Health, UCL talks to us about how she decided to undertake a PhD and shares some tips for UCL students who may be considering further study.

How did you get into your role?

I trained as a mental health nurse initially and worked within a range of mental health settings for 7 years. I enjoyed the work but became frustrated at seeing the same problems occurring again and again (for example people struggling with money, family, stress, drug and alcohol use). I decided that I wanted to make a difference at a higher level and felt research was the way to do this. I started a Masters at University College London in Social Epidemiology and worked part-time as a research nurse in the NHS in order to fund my studies. I really enjoyed this time (2 years) and was excited by the prospect of changing people’s lives through research. That is when I decided to apply to undertake a PhD at UCL.

What are the best things about working in your role? ucl-logo

The best thing about my role is that I am in complete control of my research project and have the freedom to work when and where I want. The work I do is very interesting and I am learning new things every day. It is very rewarding and exciting to think that my research can influence health policy and change people’s lives.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?

The biggest challenge is staying motivated, because I do not have anyone looking over my shoulder every day and telling me what to do. This means I have to manage my time well and cannot rely on anyone else to do my work for me. It is also difficult to choose a research topic when there are so many interesting subjects to choose from.

What top tips would you pass on to a student interested in this type of work?

My top tip is to make sure that you are doing a PhD for the right reasons such as making a contribution to a certain field of research, your passion in the subject and wanting to learn more. A PhD is a big commitment and can be difficult at times. Therefore it should not be something you decide to do because you have no other ideas or because you want to be called a doctor at the end of it.

I would also advise anyone who is considering doing a PhD to talk to PhD students within their department whilst they are at university and to their lecturers who would have done a PhD in order to teach at university. You can also access a lot of help and guidance on considering and applying for a PhD through your University career services.

To talk to a Careers Consultant for further information on applying for a PhD, visit: www.ucl.ac.uk/careers