Guest blog: Is this it? What’s next? What if…? Pondering a PhD in pharmacy

Adam Rathbone, MRPharmS is undertaking a full-time PhD on medicines adherence at the University of Durham

One of the hottest new Schools of Pharmacy in the UK is at Durham University. Katherine Triffit’s blog told you about the undergraduate experience, I’m here to blog about the postgraduate experience!
Once I registered as a pharmacist and the waves of pride, smugness and general know-it-all-ness (as well as a healthy dash of fear!) had washed over me, I was left feeling ‘is this it?’
I quickly returned to the University of Sunderland to complete my Clinical Diploma which helped cement what I was doing as a Band 6 pharmacist at The James Cook University Hospital in Teesside. However… once again I started to get an itch for ‘what’s next?’
I’d mused over continuing my diploma for a further year to attain an MSc but I was struggling to see how it would fit into my Band 6 rotation or if the topics covered would be relevant. I had always admired people in research and people doing PhDs but imagined that you’d need some sort of pre-destined magical/mutant ability to be able to get in to it – yet it really wasn’t that hard at all.
Applying for a PhD can happen in lots of different ways; you can come up with the idea and funding yourself; you can come up with the idea and find funding from somewhere; you can find the funding yourself and work on someone else’s idea or you can apply for someone else’s idea and funding.
Thankfully for me, I was able to apply for an idea that I was interested in, that already had funding and was at one of the best universities in the country that was right on my doorstep! Granted, I did have to turn down a AfC Band 7 position and for a while I worried about missing the monthly wage and paying bills – but as it turns out I’m financially a little bit better off. Being a research postgraduate is completely different to being an undergraduate student – but you still don’t pay council tax! Postgraduate students get all the benefits of the undergraduates plus much more. Durham University adds to that experience – mostly because of the Harry Potter gowns and formals but also because of the quality of the staff, inclusivity and endless possibilities of future collaboration.
Although I’m just over 2 months in, my experiences so far have been brilliant and I would certainly recommend doing a PhD to anyone out there wondering ‘what if…?’.

If you are interested in submitting a blog about your research experiences to Pharmacy Research UK, please contact us at enquiries@pharmacyresearchuk.org

Guest blogs are not edited by Pharmacy Research UK. The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Pharmacy Research UK.

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