Ivy Okereke (Health and Society)

Ivy Okereke, a part-time PhD student, explains how her career goals led her to further study, and how she manages to balance her research work whilst having a busy job and three children. 

Becoming a researcher

My academic journey commenced at the University of Nigeria, where I pursued a bachelor’s degree in Diagnostic Radiography. It was here that I first glimpsed the profound impact that medical imaging could have on patient care and healthcare as a whole.

Eager to delve deeper into the realm of medical imaging, I continued my studies at Kingston University, earning a master’s degree in Breast Imaging with the distinction that underscored my commitment to specialisation.

I currently work as a Consultant Radiographer at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust. Within this role, I have taken on the pivotal position of Breast Screening Director for the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells hospital. This role has granted me the opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of countless women.

It was a combination of professional ambition, personal interest, and a commitment to the highest standards of practice that led to my decision to embark on a research degree. The Society of Radiographers' criteria for a Consultant Practitioner (CP) specify a doctorate-level qualification in a relevant specialist area as a desirable criterion.

At the Symposium Mammographicum conference in 2021 I had the privilege of attending a lecture by Dr. Claire Mercer from the University of Salford, whose fervour for research and its potential to reshape our field was contagious.

I reached out to Dr. Mercer to explore the possibility of pursuing a PhD that aligned with my interests and I am proud to say that I am now commencing my third year of doctoral studies at Salford.

Choosing Salford

My decision to continue my studies at the University of Salford was based on the University's alignment with my academic and personal needs, as well as the expertise of the school in my field of interest.

My initial interactions with my prospective supervisor were exceptionally positive and encouraging. This gave me confidence that the University was committed to meeting my specific needs, especially regarding part-time study and flexible meeting times. The flexibility offered by the hybrid format of some of the classes was also crucial for me to be able to effectively balance my studies with other responsibilities.

Furthermore, it was essential for me to work with supervisors who had expertise in breast imaging, and I was confident that the University of Salford had a team with the relevant experience.

The University's administrative staff were impressively responsive and consistently guided me in the right direction whenever I had inquiries or concerns. Their support made the entire application process straightforward and hassle-free.

Flexible study

My experience thus far has been remarkably positive. As any researcher will attest, the journey of conducting research is filled with its fair share of ups and downs. However, I've been fortunate to have incredibly supportive supervisors who have been a constant source of guidance and encouragement.

Balancing the roles of a full-time radiographer, a mother of three, and a researcher is nothing short of a juggling act. To say my plate is full would be a understatement. Yet, I've managed to develop effective time management skills that enable me to consistently achieve my goals.

One invaluable resource that has made this balancing act feasible is the accessibility of online training, particularly recorded sessions that allow me to access essential training resources at any time. This is particularly beneficial for a part-time student like myself. I vividly recall the training I underwent while preparing my ethical application for the project – those sessions were immensely beneficial, and I genuinely believe I wouldn't have obtained approval without them.

Furthermore, the School of Health and Society offers an abundance of opportunities for personal and academic development, tailored to the needs of postgraduate research students at every stage of their research journey. This support system has been instrumental in my progress and has reaffirmed my decision to pursue my research at Salford.

Ivy Okereke portrait

"I would wholeheartedly recommend anyone contemplating research at the University of Salford to seize the opportunity. The University provides a warm and inclusive environment, and its dedicated staff are consistently supportive. Particularly for part-time students like myself, Salford offers an invaluable resource in the form of distance learning, which has proven to be exceptionally beneficial."

Ivy Okereke

Future goals

Presently, my research focuses on delving into the perspective of the mammography workforce regarding the integration of AI in breast imaging. The overarching goal of this research is to contribute substantial knowledge in this area, with the ultimate aim of realising positive change in the education curriculum designed for mammographers and associate practitioners.

Furthermore, the successful completion and attainment of a PhD through my research will meet the educational requirements by the Society of Radiographers for a Consultant Practitioner. This not only aligns with my personal aspirations but also underscores the broader impact that my research can have on professional development and recognition within the field of mammography.