Department for Health

Professional Doctorate in Health graduate talks with Viva Survivors

Mon Aug 03 17:02:00 BST 2015

Dr Denise Proudfoot completed her Professional Doctorate in Health from the University of Bath in 2014 while working as a Nurse Lecturer in Dublin City University.

Dr Denise Proudfoot

Dr Denise Proudfoot


Before her career in academia Denise worked as a Nurse in London specifically with people who were HIV positive, although she originally comes from a background in mental health, primary care and sexual health promotion in nursing.

Denise’s thesis was titled 'a narrative exploration of the experiences of mothers living with HIV in Ireland' where she set out to provide an understanding of the lives of HIV positive mothers in Ireland. Denise spoke about her research and Professional Doctorate experience with Dr Nathan Ryder from Viva Survivors.

She explained "when I decided to do a Professional Doctorate I was trying to think about research, I wanted to do something I was passionate about and interested in…I wanted to examine the social meaning of the process, and used a feminist mothering research approach to explore what it’s like to be a HIV positive mother, and maybe give voice to these women."

"One of the key findings I summarise in my thesis is being a mother impacts on the HIV experience. And vice versa, being HIV positive impacts on mothering. A lot of the women when they're diagnosed their priority is their children… They are very child centred and this impacted on their responses to their HIV result."

"The reason I chose a Professional Doctorate was because I like structure and the peer element of the programme was quite strong. The majority of people on the doctorate were mature students and senior professionals across health disciplines so you have an interesting group of people to work with. Some were clinicians, whereas I came from an academic background in a practice discipline."

"I was working full-time as an academic while also a part-time student and it was quite challenging, but because I was in an academic environment it helped, I had access to a lot of resources."

Denise’s advice to those who are starting a Professional Doctorate: "choose a topic that you're passionate about and interested in to sustain your interest over a long period of time. You learn an awful lot about yourself throughout the process. Keep going, take breaks if needed, there are times when it’s straight forward and times when challenging. It’s definitely worthwhile."

Read the full blog post online or listen to the Viva Survivors Podcast.