Yorkshire-based Sue chose further study to advance her work helping people with long-term conditions.

“I came to the University of Cumbria because the supervisor for my PhD is a specialist in my area. I am the Therapy Director and Specialist Occupational Therapist with a small independent provider of specialist assessment and rehabilitation for people with CFS/ME or other health problems causing fatigue. With a Diploma in Occupational Therapy, BHSc in Professional Health Studies and an MS c in Professional Health Studies, I have been an occupational therapist for 25 years and wanted to do further research related to my professional area of practice.

“Living at a distance from the university, my favourite experience was postgraduate Summer School. This gave me the opportunity to spend two weeks with my peers and indulge in long discussions about our research. It gave me a chance to attend seminars relevant to my learning and critically analyse my ideas.

“The difference between studying as an undergraduate student compared to a PhD is that the work is your own. Your supervisors can guide and support you but this is your original study. It is a journey that challenges you to create new knowledge rather than collate the thoughts of others.

"During my research I was working in the NHS four days a week, running a family and, in my last year, setting up a new business. You have to be very disciplined in allocating your time, giving yourself targets and managing your resources.

“I made some lifelong friends whilst at university, one of whom is a writer in the USA who I never would have met without the mix of disciplines sharing the PhD journey.

Overall I really enjoyed the experience and it has definitely had a positive impact on my career. But what I am most proud of is that my research can make a difference to understanding how to improve the lives of people with a long term condition.

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