I just never left! Life in MCHP from an undergraduate student to a PhD / GTA

by | 18 Dec 2023 | Life at MCHP | 0 comments

Rewind! Back to the start

My name is Lucy Hulme and I have, somehow, been at the University of Manchester for six years. I am going to recount how I went from studying in MCHP as an undergraduate to working here all these years later, and why I have always felt that MCHP was the department for me.

Studying within MCHP as an undergraduate student provided me with lots of opportunities. Most importantly, for my specific research journey, the department’s dedication to quality qualitative research. Having these opportunities to become skilled in qualitative approaches did not seem like a ‘big deal’ at the time. However, once I graduated and began exploring the possibility of applying for a master’s I began to realise that this dedication to qualitative research was not available everywhere. I visited other universities and asked about the potential to conduct qualitative work, and the responses ranged from gentle discouragement to one programme director looking at me like I asked to practise witchcraft! I realised that if I wanted to continue to progress my qualitative skills in a meaningful way, applying for a master’s within MCHP was the best choice for meimage of Whitworth hall at the University of Manchester

Finding my feet at MCHP

As a master’s student in MCHP I achieved my goal of continuing to skill up in qualitative approaches. In addition to this, I was able explore health psychology in more depth. I appreciated how implementable health psychology could be, it felt good to be learning about how research can have very real and tangible benefits in the day to day life of many people. My first real experience of conducting a qualitative health psychology project from start to finish came when I successfully applied to work on a dissertation project, exploring the maternity experience of parents during the COVID pandemic. Through this I also got a unique experience of conducting exploratory research during a time where that was not much foundational work to bounce off yet. This master’s experience cemented for me that health psychology was the area I wanted to conduct research in.

Big Choices

Upon graduation of my master’s, a mentor of mine within MCHP reached out to me. They had seen a 0.5 FTE PhD / GTA advertisement was in the works to be released and strongly recommended I apply, highlighting the benefit of getting an incredible amount of teaching experience in addition to the university funding my studies. The 0.5 FTE nature of the post initially made me wary, I had already been at the University of Manchester for four years at this point, and did I really want to commit to another six? However, for me it felt like the research stars had aligned when I saw that my master’s supervisor was offering a pregnancy related, qualitative, health psychology project. This was not an opportunity I wanted to pass up!

My future!

Now, fresh off my first year equivalent continuation viva, I am happy I made the decision to stay within MCHP. The level of support and community is one of this departments biggest strengths – even if Coupland 1 sometimes feel like a ghost town! I have appreciated the support of various MCHP staff with both my research and now with my teaching responsibilities. My confidence in myself as a researcher and an educator has grown due to this support. I believe that MCHP has been the best place for me and my journey into academia. Having knowledge of MCHP, what it is and who the team are, from undergrad and then my master’s was a real benefit to kick starting my experience as a PhD researcher. I would say to any undergraduate or master’s student, currently exploring health psychology research as a potential career interest, that becoming part of the MCHP community can open doors to opportunities that will benefit you for years to come. Staying within MCHP worked for me, and I hope once my freakishly long student tenure is over that I will have sufficiently given back to the community that has helped shape me as an early academic.

About the Author

Lucy Hulme completed her BSc and MSc in Health Psychology at the University of Manchester. She is currently a PHD student working at MCHP researching how women experience health behaviour discussions in perinatal care, and how the Teachable Moments (TM) model can be used to facilitate these discussions.