Last week was a monthly Research in Health Professions Education (RiHPE) group meeting at Swansea Medical School. The meeting includes Masters and Doctorate students alongside academic staff who have an interest in and/or researching healthcare education. As per previous meetings, it provided an opportunity for two members of the group to present to the group where they were with their research plans. This week it was my turn to present.
Presenting to the group was helpful because for the first time I had to articulate my research idea, methodology and data collection tools. The group offered constructive feedback and signposting of useful articles, research and tools. Being totally honest I did not spend nearly enough time preparing my presentation and it showed. When I say time- I mean time for someone with dyslexia. The information was all there but the sequencing of ideas and thoughts was confusing. This has come up a few times when I submit work and more recently during co-authoring a paper.
After the group meeting I had a supervision meeting and things started to go further downhill. It is really hard to describe but I knew what I wanted to say but to get the words out was difficult. At one point during the meeting I just gave up pronouncing the word epistemology because it was evident I was not pronouncing the word correctly. Usually my fall back is to use an alternative word so no one notices I am having difficulty pronouncing said word. However on this occasion I could not think of one. The meeting continued with arguing the case for using action research and again the words just were not forthcoming. I got to the end of the meeting feeling deflated.
Learning a New Language
As I drove home the reality of having to learn a new language, the language of research, became clear. Furthermore the implications of not being able to pronounce these new words or the inability to use research language in the correct context at the progression and/ or final viva stages was somewhat overwhelming. I had flashbacks of my Leaving Cert (~A Level) Irish and French oral exam preparations. The good news is that I did well in those exams including the oral and aural parts of the testing. The not so good news is that the time and effort that is needed to learn a language for someone who has dyslexia. On one hand I know from experience with some hard-graft it is achievable. On the other it makes completing this Doctorate a little harder.
Slow and Steady
Often when speaking to fellow radiographers completing Doctorates, especially Professional Doctorates, they are surprised to learn that my programme of study is at least six years part-time. Last week reminded me that although spending such a long time on one research area can cause challenges when trying to produce a novel piece of work, it is a sensible route for me to take.
I was also reminded what it feels like to be the learner, where your vocabulary and understanding of a subject area are still developing. And then came the realisation- I am a learner and I love being a learner. The learning context may have changed but the coping strategies have not. The path to true love is never straight forward but research and I will get there.
*This blog has been written as part of the DProf. Research in Health Professions Education reflective diary .