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Archive for the ‘Ph.D. Research’ Category

So here it is.

As we know, I have now safely navigated through the PhD journey, and can officially say I have qualified as a Doctor of Engineering. My thesis, which examines future systems of hand hygiene measurement in healthcare, will soon be available for anyone to read.  Amazing.

Even more exciting (not sure I ever thought anything would top that…which shows you how much a PhD can change you!), we also know that I have now started working for the NHS – with the phenomenal IPCT at UHCW

Now two weeks into my role as IPC Research Practitioner and I have been blown away by how much I am enjoying myself, how diverse the workload and challenges that face the team are, and crucially how overwhelmingly welcoming the team have been.  I never doubted that for a second, but they have surpassed even my high expectations. I have LOVED every moment I have been there, and am so excited about the plans we have been making.  One thing I know for sure…we’re going to be BUSY!

And my admission?

I am SMUG.

I cannot help it. I have tried to battle it, but to no avail.  I just cannot help randomly smiling whenever I think about how much I am enjoying my new post-doc freedom, the ability to offer an “expert” opinion on real world, patient safety matters, and to be given the opportunity to develop research ideas that could make a difference to the way we think in the IP community.  It’s fantastic, and the picture below sums it up beautifully.

Whilst I enjoyed my PhD journey immensely, there is an element of being “caged” – when all is said and done, the main purpose is to develop as a researcher, and ensure you display skills required to earn the qualification.  Once this has been achieved, the freedom is granted to really focus on the research area…and this feels immense!

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SO, here I am back blogging at exploringhandhygiene – it’s wonderful to have the time and opportunity to share my recent activities within the research sphere of infection prevention. Therefore, without further ado, let’s crack on!
  • What’s happened to my PhD research?

ThesisFirst, the big news – since my last post I am happy to announce that I successfully defended my thesis in my viva examination!  I had a very enjoyable examination, aided by superb examiners and a moderator who kept the atmosphere friendly, helpful and conducive to meaningful discussion, rather than making it in anyway seem like an interrogation.  My overwhelming thanks must therefore go to Professor Judith Tanner (external examiner), Dr Tina Barnes (internal examiner) and Professor Paul Jennings (viva moderator).

I am now working on my minor modifications, and also working on the feedback from a number of peer reviewed papers stemming from this research.  I’ll update on the progress of these outputs here in due course.

  • How I marked May 5thmay 5th

Whilst I was not able to be online for May 5th – the WHO SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands campaign – I did write a guest blog for Deb Group, which you can read here. This explores the origins of the WHO 5 Moments, the role of hand hygiene in helping stop the rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), and the importance of producing meaningful data when measuring hand hygiene compliance if we want to change behaviour.

  • My latest research plans

Now that I have (almost!) completed my PhD I am working on plans to further key strands of the research in order to improve practice within Patient safety.  The core aspect of my work is Meaningful Data for Behaviour Change, and this involves psychology, human factors and technology.  As I have a strong belief that research should have a practical application I will be looking to maintain close links with day-to-day infection prevention activity, and increase the level of involvement of front-line healthcare professionals in research: exploring issues that they identify as important for Patient safety.

  • What I’ve been doing outside the hand hygiene bubble

Finally, because it has been an unusual time, I have been offline quite a bit recently – hence the blog/twitter silence.  This is in part due to a technical hitch (I’m awaiting a new shiny machine, as currently my old faithful laptop is on the way out to pasture), but mainly due to taking some time out on holiday, AND training for the walkthewalk.org London Moonwalk 2014.  You can read all my team, and our motivations here – plus see some rather spectacular training photos…!wtw

 

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Identity Crisis

Emerging into sunlight!

Emerging into sunlight!

After months spent as a virtual recluse battling against all manner of hurdles to complete my thesis it felt like a real treat to emerge out into the winter sunshine yesterday and wandered up to Warwick Medical School.   This was just a flying visit, to put last minute touches to some future plans, and now I am back in my regular haunt on main campus.   However, all being well I hope to be spending much more time “up there” in the future…

It was as I was wandering back down the hill that my thoughts turned back to a conversation I had a little while ago, on the topic of “identity”.  The common question of “What do you do?” often being an early probe in conversations, currently provides my first dilemma. I am no longer a student, having ceased to be registered with the University at the end of 2013.  However, my daily activities seem to have changed little, except that instead of writing my thesis I am now translating my work into journal papers, blog articles and future research proposals. But I am not a student.  Yet neither am I a Post-Doc, for I have to wait to have my viva before such exciting developments can occur. So prompts the question: “What am I?”

Identity Crisis

Identity Crisis

The answer to this question is further complicated from my seeming inability (reluctance?) to define myself under a traditional “discipline”.  In academia, as in life, one is often identified by a series of labels. People are “Historians”, “Mathematicians”, “Philosophers” and “Economists”.  Recently I was asked “What are you?” to which I explained that I saw myself as a researcher within Infection Prevention.

Apparently this was not the accepted approach…

I needed to “be” something. I explained I had a Psychology degree, but I refute that I am a “Psychologist”, although according to some definitions perhaps I am…  I have a business MA, but I do not see myself as exclusively in this field either.  Having spent a number of years in manufacturing I could define myself as an “Analyst”, but that isn’t solely what I do.  Finally, all being well, I will soon have a doctorate in “Engineering”.  But, looking at what I do, and where I see myself going, I don’t feel that the identity “Engineer” quite covers it either….

So, what am I?  And further, does it matter?  Answers on a postcard* please… Be kind.

Postcard

*Tweets, comments, owls and smoke signals also accepted.

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As it is currently International Infection Prevention Week (IIPW) I thought I would write a quick post about hand hygiene promotion today – as it ties in with a lot of recent activities I have been involved in alongside tweaking the (almost complete!) PhD dissertation.

In addition to IIPW, earlier this month saw Global Handwashing Day (UK site here) whilst on May the 5th we celebrated SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands, the WHO annual Hand Hygiene awareness day.   Each of these carefully planned and well supported events allows the topic of Infection Prevention (and importantly for me, hand hygiene) to be promoted and discussed at perhaps a wider level than during the rest of the year.  One of the activities I have been involved in is writing a separate blog on human behaviour, technology and the WHO 5 Moments, which has been a great source of feedback and discussion.

Anyone visiting their local hospitals or health centres during these periods has probably noticed promotional material regarding hand hygiene, or seen information about the activities of the IPCT at that particular location.  A few photos from Twitter this week allowed a glimpse at the effort the Countess of Chester Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust IPCT have been putting in to promoting their work (captions their own)….

We’re keeping it clean… reducing MRSA and C.Diff #InfectionPreventionWeek

We’re keeping it clean… reducing MRSA and C.Diff #InfectionPreventionWeek

 

It’s Infection Control Week, keep your hands clean #InfectionPreventionWeek

It’s Infection Control Week, keep your hands clean #InfectionPreventionWeek

 

By keeping your hands clean, you are helping your local hospital to stay infection free #InfectionPreventionWeek

By keeping your hands clean, you are helping your local hospital to stay infection free #InfectionPreventionWeek

 

UHCW IPCT also used Twitter to promote their activities during IIPW.  Every Wednesday they #WIPEWednesday – standing for Wash Hands – Isolate promptly – Prudent Antibiotic prescribing – Environmental Cleaning.  This week they launched their new #WIPE stickers, and followed a board-to-ward strategy to ensure everyone got the message.  Here are just a few of their photos (captions their own):

It's #WIPEWednesday for #IIPCW today!

It’s #WIPEWednesday for #IIPCW today!

What does the W in #WIPE stand for? #WIPEWednesday #AskTheTeam

What does the W in #WIPE stand for? #WIPEWednesday #AskTheTeam

Our Chief Operating Officer knows what the I is for in #WIPE - he's got a sticker & a card! #WIPEWednesday #IIPCW

Our Chief Operating Officer knows what the I is for in #WIPE – he’s got a sticker & a card! #WIPEWednesday #IIPCW

Who knows the P of #WIPE ? Our CEO might be the man to ask? His sticker invites you to! #WIPEWednesday #IIPCW

Who knows the P of #WIPE ? Our CEO might be the man to ask? His sticker invites you to! #WIPEWednesday #IIPCW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They have also been doing some great work with the Paediatric teams and Patients, using creative play to produce some beautiful hand hygiene promotional work:

They maybe our smallest patients, but they're big on getting involved! #IIPC2013 #ptsafety #handhygiene

They maybe our smallest patients, but they’re big on getting involved! #IIPC2013 #ptsafety #handhygiene

Finally they also launched their much awaited #HygieneHop video last week….a must see and share for all interested in Infection Prevention and Hand Hygiene: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGCPPqGweNQ&sns=tw

Enjoy!!

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ExploringHandHygiene
When I started this blog, and thinking about how to discuss “my” area of research, I wanted to have an image that I could use to symbolise my work – perhaps a form of icon really – so that any related social media/dissemination outlets could follow the same theme.  Therefore both my Twitter feed, and all my presentations/posters have included the image (above), along with the phrase “exploringhandhygiene“.

Because that’s what I have been doing during my PhD really, exploring the concept of hand hygiene.

Whilst, due to the academic nature, I have had to be specific as to which areas I am particularly addressing (i.e. measurement, through researching auditing, technology, human behaviour), I have naturally been open to many other themes within the area during my research.  And that’s the point of today’s post.

One of the key additional themes that has come up time and time again, although not central to my current project, is the role of gloves within hand hygiene.   This was first pointed out to me during the interview phase of my Study 1, when participants were discussing their perceptions of barriers to hand hygiene.  Once it had been explained to me I was much more aware of it during my participatory observation sessions.  Further reading, and some excellent presentations at conferences, has shown me that this is a huge area of concern and research in the field of hand hygiene.  and aside from the clear implications for Patient Safety, it has left me more than a little uncomfortable about my originally chosen logo…..

Look at it again.

Indeed.  Why is the medical professional wearing gloves to touch the baby?  The infant has intact skin.  There appears to be no imminent bodily fluid risk.  It’s not a clinical setting where one would expect PPE to be required due to the infant being identified as being contaminated by some particular pathogen – indeed, the other hand we see holding them is not gloved….   So, barring the scenario that the medical professional is about to whip out a needle (possible) or other such ‘clutching-at-straws’ explanation, I have to say, I think this picture may be one for the archive now.

linkedin

I may keep it until submission day, and launch a new picture for the next phase of my research life though.  That feels appropriate.  It’s been a comforting image through some pretty big events, like my first international conference, and my foray into social media, and so I’m not quite ready to dump it unceremoniously.   And to mark its passing with some style, I’m using it to launch my LinkedIn page.

Let it have one last hurrah out there in cyberspace!  And if it causes discussion about glove use, then perhaps that is a good thing.  We really should be thinking about the appropriateness of their use more…

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Since coming back from #IP2013 I’ve been continuing to put the final touches to my thesis on the measurement of hand hygiene.

Final touches take a long time…that much I can definitely state with confidence!  But I’m happy that with each reading the chapters appear to take on more clarity, and confirm the over-arching links which I believe emerge from the work.

The thesis is bursting with ideas for future work....

The thesis is bursting with ideas for future work….

In parallel with finalising the thesis,  this month sees me developing further my plans for the research post-submission.  Indications from the findings are that they provide significant scope for development. Happily this is not just my opinion, and feedback from dissemination activities and discussions have encouraged my development plans.   My main focus will be in moving forward with work on hand hygiene measurement, ensuring that data generated from future systems provides meaning to those receiving it, to enable them to make improvements to Patient safety.  This proposed work will include exploring both technology and human behaviour, continuing and extending that already undertaken in my PhD, and looking to collaborate with experts within the field: both within healthcare and industry.

I’m very excited by the opportunity to combine both my academic and industrial experience, whilst remaining within a healthcare setting, the field I have come to feel so passionate and interested in over the past 5 years.  I am, as I have noted before, incredibly lucky to have been inspired by some wonderful people within this sector – with timely reference to the award-winning team who have hosted my research…you may also have heard about their success here…!

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