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Professional Profile- PhD( Cardiovascular Sciences)

Name: Karen

What do you currently study: 2nd Year PhD in Cardiovascular sciences, my research focuses on blood pressure variability in acute ischaemic stroke

Journey in 3 words what would they be: Nevertheless, she persisted!

A levels : Chemistry, Biology and Maths

Brief description of your role: My project investigates the natural history of Blood pressure variability (BPV); I will be exploring and identifying the appropriate methodologies of defining BPV in ischaemic stroke patients and subsequently determine the prognostic significance of BPV in this cohort of patients. This will be completed via a prospective multi-centre observational study to determine the natural history and prognostic significance of BPV. As a PhD student, my role involves collecting some data, uploading and preparing it for statistical use and with some guidance, interpreting the findings.

What motivated you to pursue a career in science: I’ve always loved science, and have been determined from a young age to be a scientist. I enjoy science and I find it very thrilling. It’s the awareness of the many problems we face, and the infinite number of solutions available for such problems. I’ve always wanted to contribute to the problem solving aspect, even if it’s on a small scale.

Science allows you to think, explore any crazy ideas and determine how useful it is for the masses. I like that throughout my progression in science, it has given me both personal and professional attributes, and every skill acquired is always transferable. A career in science has allowed me to approach every situation in a pragmatic way, and always seek to gain understanding in everything that I come across.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow a similar career path to yours: Do this because you want to. Don’t let your teachers, friends, parents and anyone else other than yourself convince to follow this career path. The science route comes with so many demands, and unless you are determined, you may find yourself short of motivation and drive. But if you do choose to follow this path, just know that everyone around you actually wants to help you. We all have the same common goal (to solve problems, cure diseases etc.), and so everyone is actually rooting for you.

What drives you to stay motivated: Reflections! This is honestly so true because it is only when I look back and witness how far I’ve come, that I become more motivated to keep going.

Describe how you manage your work life balance: This is difficult and there actually isn’t a neat trick to having that balance 100%. The only way I manage it is by being intentional with my time. I have to make conscious decisions daily about what I’m going to do to contribute towards my work, and how I’m going to take a break and get some rest. It can be easy for lines to blur, especially when you have a lot on your plate. Guilt is a big thing in this field when you first start out, because there is so much to do, you end up always feel guilty in some sense if you’re not doing any work but instead you’re sitting in a field somewhere enjoying the weather. This guilt will have you convincing yourself that taking a break from your work should involve doing something equally productive, such as sorting out your references, catching up on newly published work in the field and even restructuring work plans. But work life balance is very important, otherwise you’ll burn yourself out. So, it’s all about being intentional with your time, and being purposeful with what you do with that time.


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