Today’s guest blog is from Tharin Phenwan, who is a PhD student at the University of Dundee. Throughout August, the SDRC are celebrating our next generation of researchers by devoting a series of blogs to PhD Students/ Early Career Researchers. Read the series so far here

I am a first-year PhD student at the School of Nursing and Health Science, University of Dundee, under the supervision of Prof Judith Sixsmith, Dr Linda McSwiggan, and Dr Deans Buchanan. 

For my PhD project, I am focusing on the contextual factors that affect Advance Care Planning (ACP) initiation in people with dementia and its sustainability in Scotland. Since people with dementia will gradually lose their mental capacity as the disease progresses, it is crucial that they have their ACP put in place before they are unable to raise their needs. Additionally, caring for people with dementia also involves a diverse group of people: family members, healthcare professionals, community, in which they will also be driven by external policies as well. Hence there is a need to understand the complexity of each of the relationships that interact together, and how would we be able to maximise the best outcome for people with dementia, and have their ACP initiated.

Before I started my study last September, I worked as a lecturer at Walailak University School of Medicine in Thailand for 3 years and was recently awarded assistant professorship there. My training as a GP got me interested in this increasing population worldwide. My dissertation during my GP training was about the perception of advance directives and the findings showed a very complex interplay of contextualising factors around decision making and ACP. That has led me to further my interest in PhD.

Apart from my study, I also got involved in various public engagement and academic activities in the UK and Thailand. I am a member of Tayside Palliative and End of Life Care Managed Care Network (Tay PEOLC MCN). We aim to:

“work together across traditional boundaries to support the planning and delivery of consistent, equitable, high quality services to meet the needs of patients and their families in Tayside. “

I already shared the preliminary findings of my works within the group, with the hope to improve the quality of care for people with dementia in Tayside area. 

Back in Thailand, I am an advocate of ACP and palliative care. The NGO group that I am working with, Peaceful Death, aims to raise the importance of ACP and death awareness. Our last national-level project used a card game to raise awareness of death and dying and received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the public. The current project is focusing on the concept of compassionate community, and how we, as a community, will enable people to stay and die at home.

Apart from dementia, my other interests are palliative care and medical education. And I just recently received the Associate Fellowship award from The Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE), an award for those who have demonstrated a consistent commitment to medical/health professions education through their scholarly contributions to the field.

  University of Dundee profile page:

 Twitter: @TPhenwan

The SDRC will be posting blogs featuring bios from ECRs throughout August. Follow us on Twitter so you know can keep up to date with the series.