The first three weeks of my CLAHRC PhD: A blog by Jason Corner

Jason Corner on a bike

Starting anything new puts me in state of flux ‘Am I doing enough or too little, do people like me?!’. I did not open a text book until I was 25, and was not the person you would have put money on to end up doing a PhD.

I have been a Mental Health Nurse since 2010 and always worked with people experiencing dementia. I have never adequately described why I was drawn to dementia care, but I love it. Professionally I have worked as an inpatient nurse, community memory assessor, community nurse and dementia liaison nurse in a general hospital.

I was lucky to find myself academically, early in my Nursing BSc, I had difficulty writing essays and sought help through my Dean of Students office. They taught me how to write, I had always thought writing as something a person was born with, but I was taught the skill of writing coherently and was better able to express my more creative arguments. Subsequently, early in my clinical practice when I found an opportunity to undertake a PGCert in Dementia leadership, I was enthusiastic to put myself forward. Towards the end of the PGCert, one of my UEA tutors suggested I apply for the NIHR MSc in Clinical Research, run by the UEA Health Sciences department, my application was successful. The course was full-time over one year and amazingly challenging, but piece by piece, under the supervision of my excellent supervisor, I successfully completed and was awarded a merit. Towards the end of the MSc my next academic step presented itself. My supervisor informed me of the CLAHRC Dementia PhDs, I initially got scared and reverted to my academicphobic teenage self but this soon vanished and I enthusiastically applied, I was incredibly lucky to get a place at UEA.

My first few weeks have been interesting. I have felt very welcome by everyone, I have met so many people, which I have to admit I find difficult as I quite like a nice tidy life and knew people and experiences are sometimes daunting. Therefore, I have concentrated on getting organised, trying to get my head around various IT systems and academic processes. I am very excited but aware that I have quite a task ahead of me. The main thing I learnt from my MSc is workloads are manageable when divided into small pieces, when I work this way I tend to make slow but correct steps towards my goal, when I panic I try to do everything at once, I make mistakes and achieve little.

The CLAHRC Dementia PhDs are a great initiative to increase research by allied health professionals, an area which has been historically malnourished. I would recommend this inspiring process to anyone who has an open and inquisitive mind.

Jason Corner



NIHR Research Capacity in Dementia Care Pilot Programme (RCDCP)

The NIHR Research Capacity in Dementia Care Pilot Programme is being delivered through the NIHR CLAHRC’s of which CLAHRC East of England is the lead site. The aim of the NIHR RCDCP is to develop new researchers in dementia care, who have the potential to become leaders in the field by offering fully-funded doctoral fellowships for nurses and allied health professionals working in dementia care.

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