Posts Tagged ‘cake’

When I last blogged, way back in mid-April I was in need of a holiday, and was experiencing a mixed bag of events, although on the whole things were turning more positive, with enjoyable times being had with both Women In Science (#WISAnEveningWith) and the #GetStoolSmart campaign at UHCW.

So what has happened since?

Well, I managed to get away on the eagerly anticipated holiday! As with all such things, it seems a very long time ago now, but it was a wonderful break, and a great opportunity to spend some time outdoors (in all elements…!).  This isn’t a “Postcard From…” blog, but honourable mentions must go to (Dyfi Osprey Project, Welsh Cakes, MOMA Wales, Cadair Idris, and A Nets Catch).  Whilst I cannot say that I switched off from work completely (probably never possible for anyone), it was certainly much more pleasurable to be going through my presentations (Doctoral/IPS)  in my head whilst faced with scenery like this…

Doctoral Work – Getting it “Out There”

I hit the ground running when I got back from holiday, with the WMG Doctoral Conference (Healthcare) on the 29th April, a positive chance to not only share my PhD progress with peers and WMG, but also to catch up with what other Doctoral students have been up to in the last 12 months. A PhD can be an isolating experience, especially when (like me) you are researching something “different” so spend most of your time working independently – so events like this are a welcome chance to gain feedback both professionally and personally. Fortunately the presentation seemed to be well received, and discussions over lunch were all positive, with great use of the word ‘rigour’…always a good thing to hear about your work when you’ve reached the ‘only writing up now’ stage I think…!

The 9th May saw a second opportunity to share my work, this time as an Invited Speaker at the IPS Ambulance Forum and Audit and Surveillance Forum Conference (“Every Bug Counts!)” in Birmingham.  This was my first IPS meeting (outside of presenting my Poster at IPS 2012 last year), and I was absolutely blown away by the welcoming, supportive and truly friendly atmosphere; could not have been a more positive experience. Speaking after the ‘event’ that is Martin Kiernan, and with IPS President (not to mention Hand Hygiene legend!) Julie Storr mere meters away I think the word nervous barely covers it, but the excitement of being able to talk about my work, and knowing I was (in a way) representing the brilliant participants at my case study site helped me focus. And I think I got away with it…

Finally, I also found out I’ve been accepted to present my Poster summarising Studies 1 and 2 at ICPIC 2013 in Geneva at the end of June. Excited?  I believe I may have jumped a bit when I read the email. Fortunately I wasn’t in public…  Anyhow, bearing in mind the sheer scale of ICPIC 2013 with the speaker list looking like it has been copied right from my thesis reference section, I think a small amount of bouncing is allowed.

Hand Hygiene – Impressive NHS Activity

Some amazing ideas!

Some amazing ideas!

Also since I last blogged I also had a wonderful invite from the team at UHCW to come and judge their exciting Hand Hygiene poster competition, which involved both local primary school children and in-patients, all tasked with getting the vital “Hand Hygiene” message over.  These posters were displayed in the main entrance area of the hospital for over a week, generating much interest from Public and Staff alike, showing the worth of such apparently simple innovations.  Even some of the parents of the children came to see the handiwork of their offspring, and you could see the pride clearly – and also, interestingly, comments like “Oh yes, they’ve been on and on about when we should be washing our hands at home now…”. 

Baked Goodness for all!

Baked Goodness for all!

Not just your standard poster competition then…!The judging panel found picking winners in each of the age categories nearly impossible, because each child seemed to have managed to put their own unique spin on the challenge, some going with the ‘Big and Bold’ strategy, others using ‘Devil in the Detail’, whilst others were just amazingly beautiful and colourful.  Naturally, we needed cake to help us with our discussions, and fortunately the IPCT office is a haven for such baked goodness….

In the end the winners reflect a real mixture, and the overall winner will be on display at UHCW soon – contact UHCW IPCT for more information.

Global Hand Hygiene Day – My Challenge

In preparation for May 5th – Global Hand Hygiene DayProfessor Didier Pittet Tweeted a call asking what everyone would personally be doing to mark the event…which made me think about what I could do, specifically, on that date.  I decided, as my main activity in the sphere on Hand Hygiene at the moment is research, to set myself the target of trying to submit my first academic paper to a journal for review on May 5th.  I chose the Journal of Infection Prevention (JIP), as it is the Journal of the Infection Prevention Society (IPS) who I have found an invaluable source of inspiration, information and support, and I felt that my research may be best suited to their audience at this stage.  Having contacted the Editor (the wonderful Dr Neil Wigglesworth, who I’d met briefly at IFIC 2012) and received a virtually immediate response to confirm that the topic would be fitting for JIP, I knuckled down and (with my co-author!!) managed to get this paper to a format suitable for submission…thus it found itself winging its way off to the reviewers on the 5th May precisely.   Time will tell as to what feedback is returned, but we’re just looking forward to hearing what ‘outside eyes’ think of the topic, so we can take it from there. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted…

General PhD Progress

From a writing-up point of view progress is still being made; albeit a ‘non-linear, backwards/forwards, apparently quite normal’ PhD type way. I think it is best illustrated by the medium of cakes consumed recently, each representing either a breakthrough or breakdown in writing progress….

Fuel for IPS Talk run through...

Fuel for IPS Talk run through…

The PG Hub turned 1!

The PG Hub turned 1!

Celebrating breakthrough in Study 1 writing

Celebrating breakthrough in Study 1 writing

Dark times...not always bad...

Dark times…not always bad…

Part of the PG Hub "Dissertation Station" season

Part of the PG Hub “Dissertation Station” season

Cake selection for Happy Monday!

Cake selection for Happy Monday!

And the eagle-eyed amongst you, if you haven’t been distracted by all that cake, may have spotted actual pages of thesis hidden in amongst those snap shots. Proof that amongst all those sugar hits, words are emerging….there’s even talk of “sense” and “logic”… But let’s not get too carried away yet…

Back to writing for today now – revisiting my Literature Review section at the moment to add-in a section on Effective Hand Hygiene, covering Soap and Water, ABHR, Technique and, of course, the 5 Moments

WHO 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene

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  Some weekends are just golden, and it has to be said the one just passed can definitely be classed as such an example.  After a rather difficult few days with work, with research hitches seeming to come from all sides, expected and unexpected, it was wonderful to wrap Friday up on a positive – including a great email conversation with a dedicated Infection Control champion – and then delve into a weekend of indulgence.  And cake.  Amazing cake.

I managed to talk about my work and gradually developing future plans with a dear friend on Friday evening, and this helped me clarify in my own head many of the ‘need to do’ stepping stones that make up my chosen path.  Sometimes it really helps to talk to someone outside the bubble of academia, because they ask the questions you forget to ask yourself.

Saturday and Sunday were all about relaxing and recharging, and I was very fortunate to find the best of the sunshine to enjoy the beautiful grounds at Burghley, indulge in lunch at the Orangery, then join the rest of the country (so it seemed!) in watching the Olympic triumphs in the evening.  It is wonderful to see how the country can embrace hard work, dedication and team work – and how humble all the athletes are when interviewed, continually thanking other people. After a week of seeming like I have constantly needed other people’s support in my own work, it has been good to see that even these high achievers have a support network they continue to turn to.

Oh, and on Sunday I had a birthday.  Did I mention there was cake?

My main objective this week is to complete my transcriptions, and by the end of the week have Phase 2 fully mapped out for the end of August and September.  This will require me calling again on those around me who have continued to support me throughout this process, but I feel that together we can keep the project moving forwards, and the more I listen to the interviews already collected, the more I am motivated to ensure we take this work somewhere….

For your chance to be involved in Phase 2 – click here

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A change of scenery yesterday – spent some time with my young “research consultant” (5yrs) – who accompanied me to campus for a very early University taster session…  We had a great time, including an interesting peak inside the IDL, a wander around the beautiful campus (feeding ducks and dodging showers!) , and watched some of the Olympics on the big screen currently up in the Piazza.   Oh, and there was cake…naturally!

It was an enjoyable time, and a vital break from some heavy weeks of both active research and data analysis – and has given me a much needed ‘fresh’ feel with which to approach today.  Next week I have a promising meeting set up at my NHS host site, and an interview with a great Healthcare Professional about the Audit Process; looking forward to the information both these very different opportunities may bring.

Our website is now open for comments and discussions, and those at UHCW are welcome to join – please email me, or click here, for more details.

Next week I will be updating about the plans for future research – currently things are looking rather intriguing….

Enjoy the Olympics!

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Today’s vital boosts….

Another great session at my host research site this morning, made the (very) early start worth it. 

Not only was I met with gloriously happy faces as ever, but gifts!!!  Holiday rock and (homemade and epically tasting) cake from the birthday girl.  Made me feel very special, and rather humble really.  The team I am working with are giving me so much time, support, advice and – perhaps above all – patience as I bombard them with questions, emails and paper, that the additional friendliness and kindness that they add in is just amazing actually.  I shall have to practice my own baking skills to keep them going towards the end of the summer perhaps….it could be a long haul!

After quite a ‘data heavy’ week, tomorrow I have set aside some time for reading, and as part of my background work on Ethnography theory I shall be reading a paper by Iversen (2009) about the skill of “Getting Out” of a field situation.  Vital I’m sure, but I have to question, if they keep providing gifts, where is my incentive to leave…?!

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Warwick Castle seen from St Mary's Church in W...

Warwick Castle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


 This week, albeit only 3 working days, has been something of a struggle.  After a couple of great weeks where the research really felt to be gathering momentum this week has definitely felt somewhat sluggish in comparison.  I think I’m going to be terribly British and mumble something about the weather, realise I probably had one too many Jubilee cupcakes over the holiday, and focus on a very busy next week – including Interviews, Observations, and an IDH team photo.  It’ll be interesting, challenging, and never boring, that at least I know in advance!

Before then I shall be literally taking on an uphill challenge, running from one glorious castle to another, in the annual Two Castles 10k run on Sunday.  I may be alone in being thankful we’re not enjoying a flaming June at present….!!

Kenilworth Castle, whence besieged followers o...

Kenilworth Castle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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 My part in the WMG Doctoral Conference yesterday ended up going well – having had a weekend with no voice at all and having to stay somewhat horizontal for 48 hours, this was quite a relief!!

I got asked some great questions at the end of my Presentation, and this has given me plenty to think about, and research further.  I shall be uploading the Conference Abstract later this week.

What was excellent was that the themes of the questions coming out (e.g. Hand Hygiene Quality, Individual Differences in what is “Inherent” etc.) were all things we had touched upon during the course of planning this research, and underpin much of the investigative modes of research we plan to use – underpinning the need to really engage the Healthcare Workers in the debate.  

My next goal now that this Conference has passed is to continue planning for the active research stage, including recruitment which is now underway, and looking at attending two further Conferences later in the year – the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and the Infection Prevention Society (IPS).

I also need to get back out running, having had to miss the race on Sunday…however the weather here is a bit prohibitive at the moment, so tomorrow is looking like a better option.  For the record, tonight I shall be digging in to a rich luxury chocolate cupcake…rewards are essential in research!

Chocolate celebration cake

Cake and Research - natural partners... (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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    Monday (16th April) will see the WMG Doctoral Conference: Digital Technologies take place at the IDL, University of Warwick.

IDL - location for WMG Doctoral Conference Image courtesy of WMG SME Team Blog

One of a series of 3 Doctoral Conferences (the other themes being Materials and Manufacturing, and Operations and Management) it is designed to give an opportunity to all the WMG Doctoral students to share their PhD/EngD progress.

I have prepared my abstract now, and am putting the final edge on my Presentation.  Having the “just before lunch” slot I am hopeful that the Q & A session will be short as people’s desire for food overtakes their desire for knowledge….

Once I have presented I will upload the abstract here, and give a bit of a debrief as to how the Presentation was received.

In the meantime my post-Lent return to cakes and a 10k run in Royal Leamington Spa are giving me much needed distraction….!

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A lack of updates and posts is indicative of a rather busy week, definied by two major themes – catching up with fellow researchers, and changing my research question.

Both of these themes have left me thinking, as many times before, how true the adage is that research is a “winding road” – sometimes the more work that is done the further away the end goal seems, or the foggier the field becomes.  Since I began researching Hand Hygiene in 2009 I must have changed, clarified, adjusted and re-evaluated various Research Questions, aims and objectives more than 20 times. 

Many times this is due to ‘new’ literature being found, or simply reaching a new level of understanding – but sometimes it is due to more negative reasons, of feeling unsure and uncertain as to where I have got to, or where I am going.  A Ph.D. can be a very isolating experience – whilst it is a key feature that you learn to be an independent researcher, working alone has the potential to be somewhat dispiriting. Fortunately I have the luck to be surrounded by some excellent peers, and this week have caught up with both current and past research students – where we’ve chatted about current issues relating to our research, academic life in general, and the challenges that exist in the post-doc world.  Being able to share issues is definitely the only way to keep the motivation going as the road gets ever more winding.  Plus it is an excellent opportunity for cake!  A blog dedicated to all things Ph.D. experience is imminent from one of these brilliant minds….I’ll let you know when it is up and running!

In the same vein Things 6 and 7 of the “Digital Professional” course are also linked to reducing isolation – through increasing networking opportunities and raising individual profiles within the academic community.  I’ll let you know how I get on with each of those shortly…..

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Sometimes cake is the only answer (Image via Wikipedia)

One of the most challenging parts about research is keeping up-to-date with the ever-changing knowledge landscape; even in the time elapsed since I graduated the first and second time (ok, it has been a while…) the world has moved on at an incredible pace, and even knowing you have read the latest publication from the most relevant journal in no way means you are “up-to-date”.

It was always known that because of the (substantial!) time taken for work to be written, re-written, peer-reviewed, re-written again, submitted and eventually published even data appearing in journals was already usually at least a year old; however this ‘grace period’ was generally seen as standard, and thus discussing results from the past 5 years or so seemed quite acceptable.  Not so now!  Because of the advent of the internet, tools such as blogging, Skype, and e-publications allow vast quantities of data to be shared in virtually no time at all – and this includes research data.  Naturally, issues of rigour and peer review need to be acknowledged, thus due attention to the source, reliability and validity of the data needs to be noted; but given that we’re in the field of research, such skills should now be coming naturally….

The Digital Professional course has set 2 more “Things” to get on top of this week – both aimed at precisely this topic; the first (Thing 3) is getting to grips with RSS Feeds, and the second (Thing 4) is setting up Journal search/citation alerts.

Thing 3 – familiarising myself with RSS Feeds caused me some frustrations I have to admit; although the upside is that I now know what they are, and I also know about the Start.Warwick homepage, which allows me to keep up-to-date with a whole range of different ‘headline’ activities across the entire Campus.  As it is entirely flexible I can now see headlines from my own Department (WMG) as well as wider University based matters, and keep an eye on the release of the next ‘Thing’ from the Digital Professional course – this saves me flicking through numerous webpages – and hopefully will stop me passing by so many distractions en route to my intended work destination…..

My frustration, just to publicly announce it, was purely due to mistakenly using the URL ” http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/rex23phd11” in the “Add new gadget” section, rather than the slightly different URL from the Feeds page “http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/rex23phd11?rss=rss_2_0“.    Still, a small walk away from the computer, a slice of cake and a deep breath has made me see it as a learning exercise….and all is well now!

Thing 4 – setting up Journal search/citation alerts was much easier, as it is something that I am already a little familiar with – having set up a weekly alert service with Emerald (http://www.emeraldinsight.com) to help me keep a track of developments within the Patient Empowerment arena – and also via Google alerts to help me keep an overview of general news releases on the topics of “hospital superbugs”, “hospital acquired infection”, Clostridium difficile” and “hand hygiene”.

I am now going to look at setting up a few more citation alerts based on new themes arising in my research – but as with all data mining, finding the literature is one thing, having time to read it and take the necessary next steps is quite another…..

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