I’m a PhD Candidate!

Yesterday I received an official letter of acceptance to the Nursing Science PhD Program at my alma mater! My official start will be Fall 2019, but I’ll begin taking classes as soon as this summer, and I am starting to fine tune my thesis topic and talk with my thesis committee.

If you’ve been following along on my Instagram account (@navylifeofapilotswife), you might remember that about 10 days ago, I made a “big pitch” to my alma mater School of Nursing regarding veteran-focused research. I am a part-time nurse researcher for the University and for another research organization, but I said on Instagram that I had research interests in a related area and I was pitching my idea to the University. That pitch was my PhD interview and discussion about my proposed thesis topic, which is a BIG ASK for this particular University … or so I thought at the time I was invited to interview.

As fate would have it, the University just signed a deal with the federal government to take on a bigger role in veteran-focused research, so my thesis topic proposal was extremely well timed. The three University PhD professors/researchers who took part in my interview indicated that my thesis topic could be well supported by the University and School of Nursing.

My thesis topic will be an investigation of chronic pain in aging veterans. I am now considering which subset of veterans would be best for this research, and what I wish to do with the information I gather. I have an idea, which is the BIG ASK I pitched to the PhD committee – the topic itself isn’t particularly unique, but the subset of veterans I wish to target is. We’ll see how it pans out! 🙂

During the interview, I was asked about what difficulties I could encounter as a PhD student. I suppose they usually receive answers like family commitments, financial considerations, etc. I talked about what it might be like to be a squadron XO/CO’s spouse and how that might impact my ability to be single-minded during my PhD candidacy. I said that the Navy will require my attention at times, and that being a PhD student is not a typical undertaking of a spouse during a high-level tour, like that of the XO and CO of a jet squadron. I explained that I will be expected to lead the families while my husband leads the service members, and the XO/CO tour is very similar to being the CEO of a mid-size corporation, but in which every member and piece of machinery goes to war. I explained that there *will* be a deployment at least once, and deployment may be the time that I have a hiccup in my candidacy and require understanding and support from the University – not in terms of my ability to cope, but because I will have to prioritize the families of my husband’s sailors and officers because that is what he Navy demands of the XO/COs’ spouses. It will be my duty to be a leader if my husband is given the great privilege of leading a jet squadron. I want to write more about this later, after I’ve had time to digest more of what this will entail, but I wish to share this now because it’s something all of us spouses need to think about. If your spouse stays in the military beyond 15 years, YOU will be called upon to be a leader too, at some point, and it doesn’t matter what else is happening on your life – you will be required to serve your military community as part of your spouse’s service. It’s a wild concept to think about, but this is what the military requires of its spouses and families: service and sacrifice.

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