It all starts with “why….?” The journey towards a PhD

Mrs Tracey Millichamp1,2

1School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia, 2Redland Hospital Emergency Department, Queensland Health, Cleveland, Australia

A PhD is commonly considered to be a journey, a research apprenticeship, that can build new understanding and extend existing knowledge by the use of original approaches to problems, exploration of understanding and testing and unique ways of thinking and writing (Trafford & Leshem 2009).

But what does this actually mean? What is the reality of a PhD?  Especially for someone used to working clinically and  earning a reasonable living. How do you find someone to help/supervise you? What university do you go to? How much does it cost? Where do you start with a research project that will ultimately produce 80,000 words? And, more importantly, why would you chose to spend 4-8 years producing those words?

This presentation is a personal account of a journey toward PhD study and a beginner’s guide to help you prepare for the start of your PhD adventure.

Expand your worldview, explore your boundaries and exceed your own expectations.

Trafford, V. & Leshem, S (2009).  Doctorateness as a threshold concept.  Innovations in Education and Teaching International.  Vol 46 (3), pp. 305-316.


Tracey Millichamp is Clinical Nurse Consultant in the Emergency Department at Redland Hospital. She has lead and participated in a number of research projects in the ED environment including improving medication safety, decreasing violence in the ED, clinical handover and implementing models of care. Tracey is currently completing a PhD in medication safety, nursing and the ED.