Baby steps will still get you there

Photo of Karlee Johnston

“Just continue to do something, anything, as long as you are moving forward no matter how slow that movement is.” This is the sage advice that Karlee Johnston has received and is living by as she tries to advance her PhD work.

Karlee, whose PhD thesis will focus on burnout in hospital pharmacists, is at the data collection stage of her project. Instead of letting the pandemic impact her progress, she’s changed the design and approach so she can continue working. “I had originally planned for the first phase of my research to be interviewing pharmacists who had experienced burnout and then to survey the hospital pharmacist community more broadly.  Given the current situation I was really worried as the results would obviously be skewed by current challenges for the professions, so I have instead decided to take ‘advantage’ of the COVID-19 situation and have released a National survey.  This survey still measures burnout but does it in the context of the current pandemic.”

“I see HDR study as a privilege, an opportunity to genuinely make a difference. It’s also a unique experience that only others who have been through it understand.  Being part of this unique community provides an opportunity and a responsibility to support one another.”

In order to support her peers, Karlee has taken on the role of Higher Degree Research (HDR) Representative for the Medical School HDR students. This is a new role that she hopes will help facilitate learning and support for her peer network. “I know that there are a lot of people in our cohort who have some fantastic skills and knowledge that would benefit the wider group. Being able to share our experiences at different points through the PhD process will be valuable.” Karlee is in the planning stages for how the group will come together but is keen to utilise the Wattle discussion forum and perhaps create a Facebook page for communication and support purposes.

Karlee acknowledges that COVID19 has had a significant impact not only on people’s research but on life more broadly and each person has been affected differently. “These are uncertain and unprecedented times but if we can keep a level head, look for opportunity, support each other and acknowledge and celebrate the small achievements, I know we’ll make it to the other side.”

If you're a Higher Degree Research candidate and need support, please contact your supervisor, Associate Director, Higher Degree Research, Doctor Diana Perriman or your HDR Representative Karlee Johnston.