ESHPM: Kirti Doekhie and her job as PhD student

Imagine, writing a thesis that is thousand times as much work. Well, that might be an exaggeration, but that is how Kirti Doekhie explains her students what her job as a PhD student is like. With this comparison it might be hard for a lot of students to imagine someone would choose for a PhD after their master. Still, in every 1000 working people, 6,6 finished a PhD. Do you want to know if this might be something for you? Kirti explains to us what the job is like and what her research is about.

Kirti Doekhie (29) started as a bachelor student at ESHPM in 2008. After her bachelor she finished the master healthcare management and the master health law. You could say she’s been here for quite a while. She has always liked doing research and started working at the Nivel institute after her master. There, she decided to do a PhD and started applying. In 2014 she applied here at ESHPM and got accepted.

The past four years she has been doing research about how well actors work together in taking care of elderly living at home. We expect a lot from elderly and their caretakers, but are those expectations feasible? Kirti has been speaking to a lot of elderly in collaboration with a home care organisation to answer this question. She says the original plan got changed a little bit because elderly were asked to work with iPads, which caused a lot of elderly to drop out of her research. ‘’You have to be able to deal with setbacks,’’ Kirti says. However, there are a lot of perks to the job as well. ‘’You are able to dive into a subject you really like for four years. You really get to develop yourself!’’ She has also lived in San Fransisco for 2 months and was able to do some other trips abroad to conferences. The job is also really flexible. This does pose a challenge though: you have to be able to set boundaries.

There are some preconceptions about PhD jobs: you never leave your computer, you’re writing 24/7 and only nerds can do it. Kirti laughs when asked about this. ‘’My colleagues are normal people who just love to do research. You don’t need to be over the top smart. You just have to be driven. Also, it’s not all computer work. Data collection takes a lot of time and then you’re really interacting with your participants. It depends a bit on what subject you have. Besides that, you are teaching 15% of your time, which I really like. I was a mentor for bachelor 1 students, I taught organisational sciences and supervised bachelortheses.’’

Kirti is almost finished with here PhD and has already started her new job at Zorgimpuls. There she will guide projects with municipalities regarding social work for example. Furthermore, she is pregnant and her due date is in march. So yes, she is finishing her PhD next to her new job and new born baby boy. Credits for this super human! And thanks for giving us some insight into the job of a PhD student.

SHARE is the Faculty Association of the study ‘Health Policy and Management’ at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

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