It all starts with “how….?” Supporting the journey towards a PhD (part 2)

Dr Amy Johnston1,2, Mrs Tracey Millichamp1,3

1School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia, 2Dept Of Emergency Medicine, Princess Alexandria Hospital, Queensland Health, Woolloongabba, Australia, 3Redland Hospital Emergency Department, Queensland Health, Cleveland, Australia

A PhD can be many things, descriptive, data-driven, methodological, explorative and so many more – but it is always BIG. So many capable nurses who are undertaking unique and innovative research and extending existing knowledge as a part of their clinical roles, sometimes even publishing that research(1), are put off the logical step of enrolling in a PhD because it just seems so intimidating. This presentation will provide a framework for starting to explore research higher degree studies. It will set out the requirements for a PhD thesis (it’s not always just a very very big book), the processes to set in place at the start to help ensure successful completion of a research higher degree, some general information about entry requirements, the difference between a PhD and a professional doctorate (yes there is a difference), finding supervisors and developing a project (or using a project that you are already doing in a professional role) to ensure you complete.

This presentation is a personal account of supporting nurses’ journeys toward and through PhD study and a generic supervisor’s guide to help you, the potential PhD student, prepare for the start of your PhD adventure.

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

1Henly, S. J., et al., (2015). Emerging areas of nursing science and PhD education for the 21st century. Nursing outlook, 63(4)


Dr Amy Johnston currently holds a conjoint senior research fellow/senior lecturer position between Metro South Hospital & Health Service, Department of Emergency Medicine (based at Princess Alexandra hospital) and School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work. She works across the academic and healthcare environments to conduct her own research as well as supporting clinicians to develop the skills and confidence to participate in, and conduct research projects relevant to their clinical work. Amy is a neurobiologist and nurse with extensive teaching and research experience and a particular interest in Emergency Department service delivery and patient flow. She also has an enduring interest in the scholarship of clinical learning and teaching, particularly focused on the biosciences. She has been contributing to nursing bioscience teaching for more than 25 years (since the inception of nursing degree programs in Australia).