I have recently returned from an amazing opportunity to go to Scotland and attend the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals Research unit (NMAHP-RU) at Stirling University for two days. I landed at 2200 at Edinburgh airport and was lucky enough to have a fantastic taxi driver that acted as tour guide on the 40 minute drive from the airport to Stirling University pointing out Stirling castle, Edinburgh Bridge and the kelpies monument that was lit beautifully against the dark skyline. I was staying at Stirling Management Centre which is onsite at Stirling University.
My first day on the 17th was a beautifully sunny and hot one. I had a meeting with Dr Helen Cheyne of the NMAHP-RU who is involved in decision making research, with interests and paper’s on interventions in labour, identifying labour and intrapartum care assessment to name but a few. The meeting was informal and involved a lovely walk around campus which is extremely large with its own woodland area and lake; home to beautiful wildlife. We discussed my study as well as the related work she had done in the field followed by a history of Scotland’s maternity care services and current practices around discussing place of birth. Overall a thoroughly thought provoking and useful meeting, Helen also put me in touch with a fellow Phd student with interests in my study topic who I have been in contact with. We then attended the Research Unit which was large and open planned where I met all of her colleagues, some of which I had meetings with.
Following lunch my second meeting was with Dr Julie Cowie a researcher interested in complex interventions, ehealth and mixed methodologies all related to my study. We sat outside and made use of the glorious sunshine whilst discussing my choice of methods and how to choose the most appropriate decision analysis framework. Again I received a lot of helpful advice and information to support my study, making the meeting an extremely valuable one.
Then came the time to give my presentation; the moment that I had been dreading since I knew I was going on this trip. Luckily everyone had been extremely welcoming and kind and my fears had subsided slightly. The presentation had gone as well as I could have hoped and what followed was a great discussion that yielded useful points to consider. Unfortunately technology wasn’t on my side and the link to the decision support tool wouldn’t open ….. Luckily enough my supervisors had warned me from their previous experience that this could happen and I had taken screen shots to input into the presentation so a massive crisis was averted! The high of the presentation ended my first day at the research unit, I returned to the hotel elated. I made use of their fantastic gym facilities and Olympic size swimming pool!
Yet another beautifully warm and bright day (I joke not) consisted of further meetings. The first with Dr Purva Abhyankar an expert in the field of decision making and the use / implementation of decision aids within health related settings. She has had numerous publications in the decision aid field and has a wealth of knowledge to access, providing me with a list of area’s to read into and books to further my knowledge. Followed by a meeting with Dr Pat Hoddinott who is a former GP and has a particular interest in the design and delivery of complex interventions such as a decision support tool to support health behaviours around childbirth, we discussed at length my chosen methodology with possibilities of adding some new ideas such as the ‘think out loud’ technique. I left the meetings with my head swimming with new knowledge and a new boost of excitement, ideas to research and consider.
Walking back to the hotel that afternoon I felt a sense of achievement, I had my first travel experience on my own without have a meltdown, I completed my first presentation to peers that new nothing of my study and left with some encouraging comments and a sense that my knowledge level had doubled with all of their expert advice and suggestions. Overall this was a thoroughly enjoyable, thought provoking and memorable trip with not a cloud or drop of rain in sight.
I would like to thank the NMAHP-RU and all those that took the time out of their busy schedules to meet with me and again to Santander for the funding to make this trip possible.