Posts about: Meet our Students

The angel of mercy and the inspiring Salford University

9 February 2017

A blog post by Noura Almadani, PhD student at School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Sciences

My personality has been shaped by my Islamic cultural background, values, ethical principles and beliefs that I carry with me throughout life. I spent my childhood on the northern border of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Tabouk), living in an intergenerational but small community that has powerfully influenced my life.

For me, nursing has become the ‘Angel of Mercy’. A very prominent memory for me is the time that my father was admitted into Intensive Care  Unit where he was not able to pray. The hospital staff did not understand our culture and the importance of praying for us, within the Muslim community, and this affected the whole family. My father died the following day and losing him meant losing the light of our household. I was inspired to do something to make him proud and, after secondary school, I decided to join the new Health Institute for nursing which was considered the first nursing programme in Tabouk.

In my early career, I spent time working in the pediatric ward as a staff nurse; this created many challenges for a young girl in a closed culture like Saudi Arabia. My family was very supportive and this encouragement helped me to overcome many obstacles. Marrying at the young age of 18th year did not hinder me in pursuing my dreams. In fact, it was one of the factors that empowered me to complete my studies, to be a good mother for my children and to be a role model for all Saudi women.

I am an optimistic woman; I love life, I love people, I love to make others happy and I believe that life is beautiful when we are honest with ourselves and with other people, plan our career, focus on our objectives and work to achieve them. All these factors inspired me to concentrate on education as the golden key for success to open the gate of the future.

I awarded a free internal scholarship and successfully completed my Bachelors degree in Nursing at King Saud University. This degree equipped me with the self-esteem and confidence to apply theory in practice. The emotional support I gave to patients inspired me to become more compassionate. In 2005, I joined a newly established General Directorate of Nursing at the central level of the Ministry of Health (MoH) and became actively involved in the development of nursing departments in 20 regions of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In this role I was involved in the strategic planning of nursing as a profession and promoting it as a competitive and professional choice. In 2009, I obtained my Master’s degree in Nursing Education from Marymount University, USA. I took on the role of Director of Training and Nursing programmes and joined the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Nursing Technical Committee, which is a political and economic alliance of six Middle Eastern countries. This committee’s goal is to achieve unity among its members, based on their common objectives. Carrying strategic responsibilities at a national and international level encouraged me to apply for my PhD.

The development of nursing in Saudi Arabia is still experiencing mixed reactions and this makes nursing a less attractive career choice for young Saudi women. However, despite the continuing negativity towards nursing, the number of Saudi women entering the profession is growing. When these women become proficient with clinical skills, critical thinking and awareness of the barriers that hinder development, their chosen professional status will be increased.

My journey did not stop there!  I am currently in my third year as a PhD student at the University of Salford. As an international student, studying a PhD is a challenge in itself but the experience is very rewarding and so is the joy, love and hard work that I put into being a mother. In particular, the support, guidance and friendships that I have formed at Salford University have been, and continue to be enormously helpful in increasing my knowledge and my confidence; giving me the chance to learn from the experts. I have developed a good network of professionals in my field, which I am hoping to strengthen when I return to Saudi Arabia by organizing various seminars and projects. Last year, I started the Salford Saudi Society to provide a way for Saudi students to connect and share knowledge and experiences. I coordinated the 85th  Saudi National Day with the cooperation of Post Graduated Researcher (PGR) students as a first Saudi event at University of Salford.

I have truly enjoyed my time here and I have benefitted from the University of Salford in numerous ways. The University has helped me to experience a rich cultural and social scene, meet different people and increase my engagement in voluntary work. I highly recommend students to join Salford University because it can lead you to build a good academic network, increase your earning potential, provide a wider range of opportunities and develop a more rewarding career. My time spent at the university has been both incredibly rewarding and challenging. In the next part of my story I will write about the challenges that I faced during my PhD at Salford.

Sabah’ experience of PhD at the University of Salford, Manchester, UK

13 November 2016
PhD experience

Sabah Ismile Alsomali PhD experience

I am Sabah Ismile Alsomali, PhD third year student at the University of Salford, School: Nursing, Midwifery, and Social Work and Social Sciences.

My PhD First Year Experiences

I arrived in Manchester in September 2014, eager to begin my doctoral studies in a new country, as an international student from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I chose to travel to the UK for my degree to broaden my academic and personal horizons.

This unique, University of Salford is famous in my country for its outstanding performance in the educational research, and the academic staff is well known in their fields of expertise. In my opinion, an academic expertise with a high reputation in the research field is crucial, and I was searching for a level of knowledge and experience, which I found at the School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Science. The lectures and seminars from expertise were helpful to guide and direct me, and I also learned various research skills, as well as, acquired insightful knowledge related to my research and overall personal development.

I found the facilities and resources at the University of Salford outstanding. The university is well organised, and the support team is always available and helpful.

The diversity of my fellow research students from all over the world and the sheer range of subjects make a large academic community of mutually supportive researchers. We are encouraged to share our work, via a series of seminars on the research approaches and issues. For example, I had the opportunity to participate in several seminars in the university, such as I was one of the speakers on International Nursing Day, and I presented my research project on the celebration of Postgraduate Research Day. I was also, one of the organisers and speakers on the event of Saudi National Day at University of Salford. In addition to this, I gave a lecture to new students of Master’s Degree at the University.

My first year of studying PhD at the University of Salford was quite busy because I spent a lot of time reading relevant literature, attended seminars and workshops, which helped me to understand the research methods and methodology. In addition to this, I prepared for my interim assessment research proposal, which was scheduled in late June 2015. The interim assessment was the most important evaluation in my PhD work. The examiners were extremely helpful and friendly and gave some valuable comments. Following this, my supervisor and I were asked to leave the room. The most stressful moment was the waiting time for the results outside the office with my supervisor. After a period of 10 minutes, we were informed that I passed my interim assessment and can now consider myself a PhD student. The interim assessment was a turning point for me in this research work. Although, I completed all the preparation work, for example, literature review, research methods; I felt that the second year would be the year marked, as the initiating year of the research and hard work.

My PhD Second Year Experiences

The second year was very different from the first one. Now that I had a clear plan of what I wanted to do, all I had to do is to work and the second year would be the year marked as the initiating year of the research and hard work.

The second year was hard in a way because the excitement of the first year was over, but the end was still out of reach. From my experience, those who decide to drop out, often do so, by the end of the second year.

According to plan, I wrote an initial draft of my thesis using the data available from the existing literature, printed research tools materials. By the time, I gained a full understanding of the subject, I conducted a field trip to Saudi Arabia.

Due to the nature of my thesis, the fieldwork for data collection was conducted for the second year of my research as planned in Saudi Arabia, which involved survey questionnaire with the people with T2DM and face-to-face semi-structured interviews with health care professionals as well as people with T2DM.

I acquired more knowledge and experience from data collection in the field. Personally, I acquired knowledge of SPSS and doing quantitative data analysis with the help of SPSS.

During the second year of PhD at the University of Salford, in the United Kingdom, I would describe myself as becoming a competent researcher evidenced by co-authoring two publications with my supervisor and conference presentation.

I prepared for my Internal Evaluation (IE) exam, which was scheduled in late September 2016. The internal evaluation was the most important evaluation in my PhD work.

The sequence of my second year IE evaluation was somewhat similar to what happened in the first year IE evaluation. After the question-answer by the panel, my supervisory team and I were asked to leave the room and were called after few minutes, later to be told that I passed my PhD internal evaluation and can now proceed with PhD third year study. I was very happy. The examiners of this panel were also very helpful and friendly, like the examiners in the first year panel.

I enjoyed the second year more than the previous year. First of all, I felt more confident in the area of my study and gained a deeper knowledge of the topic when I did my data collection and data analysis.

I felt optimistic about finishing my degree on time when I passed my Internal Evaluation exam.

My PhD Third Year Experiences

At the beginning of the course of my PhD, third year journey, I was given many chances to present my work at conferences. The gains from sharing my work with a wider audience are tremendous and valuable. These exceptional experiences will not only give me insights into my work but will also give me a good idea of what it means to be a part of a wider academic community. I have also made progress in disseminating my work with a poster, accepted at a conference at Manchester University.

In my final year, I will be determined to make most of the opportunities and work, as hard as, I can. Due to the nature of my research study, I am positive about the possibility to complete the required amount of work in one year. Although third year bears a lot of responsibilities, with the major material of my work prepared and written, I feel confident that I would be able to use the time after data collection effectively to improve the drafts, I already have.

The University Salford has fantastic resources, offering access to everything you need to do your PhD, such as data sets and 24/7 library facilities.

The community between PhD students at the School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Sciences was imperative to me. It fosters a vibrant group of people studying different things, and with a strong sense of collaboration and support, we were able to share expertise and advice within this community. I appreciate the help from other students, who were going through similar things as I was going through.

I always felt welcomed by the School staff and the city. It has given me access to a new culture and a new life, which is multicultural, yet integrated. The School also has excellent industrial connections and international links, so I was able to understand a different way of thinking and understanding.

The city of Manchester is a great place for studying. It is known as the “best student city.” The city is multicultural and lively and has lots of tourist attractions, museums, galleries, and on-going events throughout the year.

The vibrant campus of the University of Salford is only a short travel from Manchester Central. I found myself in the middle of great things happening, which influenced my personal development and learning that I will take to my home country when I complete my PhD. Finally, I can say that at the University of Salford, challenges may seem big, but they filled my life with excitement and helped me to realise my dreams with more confidence and enthusiasm.

PhD student, Sabah Ismile Alsomali

University of Salford, School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Sciences

Salford student makes a difference

5 October 2016


This week three Ugandan healthcare professionals are arriving at the University of Salford on the Commonwealth Professional Fellowship programme. This is Euphrasia, our previous colleague, who has returned and made a profound impact. The health centre she works in (Kagote) had not delivered a baby for 16 years and it is now the best performing health centre in the District with deliveries increasing all the time.

Euphrasia is now able to contribute to teaching on their new midwifery degree supported by our charity and Salford staff. And now we are embarking on supporting another failing health centre. Kagote is the facility we choose to place Salford midwifery students in on placement so they get great support. If you are going over there look out for her smiling face!

Find out more about Knowledge4Change & University of Salford Knowledge and Place projects.



Criminology, prisons and the University of Salford

25 January 2016
Dr. Toni Wood

Dr. Toni Wood

I am Antonia (Toni) Wood and I have recently completed my Ph.D. titled: Challenging Occupational Norms: An Ethnographic Study of Female Prison Officers in a Women’s Prison.

Having gained a first class Honours degree in Criminology from Manchester Metropolitan University, I went on to gain further knowledge in the subject by completing the MRes in Criminology and Socio-Legal Studies at The University of Manchester. Following a successful application and interview I took the role of Graduate Teaching Assistant (now known as Graduate Teaching Student) and embarked on my PhD journey under the guidance of Dr Elaine Crawley and Dr Muzammil Quraishi at the University of Salford. In summary, my PhD thesis was based upon an ethnographic exploration of female prison officers in a women’s prison in the North-West of England. The findings make contributions to debates around staff-prisoner relationships, mental illness in prison and gendered empathy.

My experience as a third and final year Ph.D. student

I have enjoyed the whole of my experience whilst at the School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Science. The facilities were outstanding, modern and welcoming and I appreciated my own desk space where I could prepare materials for classes I was teaching, or presentations I was due to deliver or generally just be in the presence of other students in a similar position to myself. Many of the students I shared an office with were international and predominantly undertaking research in nursing subjects. This in itself was interesting and made for some good intellectual conversations whilst offering each other support for the expected assessments and internal evaluations that you are expected to pass as a Ph.D. student at the University of Salford.

Research and opportunities

Here I was given the opportunity to present my research at the schools Celebrating Postgraduate Research Days, and to date I have presented at three of them. They have always proved useful and I always appreciated the comments and feedback given from other academic staff in the school.  Throughout this final stage of my Ph.D. journey I have had other opportunities to present my research and quite recently presented some of my findings to criminal justice practitioners at the Criminal Justice Showcase event organized by myself and the Salford Professional Development team.

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 10.39.09During the last year I have started to move content from the SUCPS website of which I was co-ordinator to a new Criminal Justice Hub to allow staff from the department of Criminology and Sociology to have a platform to showcase their research. I have assisted in delivering a workshop to bring academic researchers together from the School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Sciences and from across the wider university.  I am keen to collaborate with colleagues from other disciplines and institutions in future research projects. My own research interests predominantly sit within the prison environment with a special interest in the health and wellbeing of both prisoners and prison officers.  These areas fit comfortably with a number of disciplines in the school of NWSWSS, for instance mental health, learning disabilities, midwifery and dementia.  Currently, I am developing an application for funding with colleagues from the department of Psychology and School of Law at the University of Salford to explore learning difficulties in two distinctly different prisons.

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 20.32.05Throughout my time at the University of Salford I have been inspired by a number of colleagues and peers, and as a regular Tweeter I recently posted a photograph under the #InspireUoS of my current point of inspiration. My 13 year old son, who currently spends his life eating, sleeping and playing football (and constantly questions the nutritional value of meals I cook for him) has been given the opportunity to train with the Manchester City Football Academy U13 select team.

Toni Wood,

School of Nursing, Midwifery, and Social Work & Social Sciences, University of Salford

Spreading the Midwifery Love

17 January 2016
Bev Jervis, PhD Student

Bev Jervis, PhD Student

At the moment I feel I have many midwifery hats……. Most of my time is spent doing my PhD, I am now in my third year of a full time course at the University of Salford. I am looking at knowledge acquisition around movement in labour from women’s, midwives and obstetricians perspectives and from this I am hoping to change the midwifery world!!! (Wish me luck, I am thinking it is going to be a long road!) I am also teaching midwifery at Salford on a graduate teaching studentship, a whole other learning journey about teaching and learning. I absolutely love it! I am also involved in a national midwifery charity. Sadly I haven’t done any clinical midwifery since 2014 due to time pressures but I had the opportunity to be a doula last summer which was truly amazing.

My research

For my PhD I am looking at movement during labour. For the literature review, I wanted to look at how this knowledge was put together. I did a critical review of literature reviews on movement and positioning during the first stage of labour and looked at how knowledge around movement and positioning was viewed, validated and put together from other sources.

From my perspective women’s movement and positioning during labour was a natural and normal part of normal birth, it was something available to most women who experienced labour, yet the reviews termed movement and positioning as an intervention. These reviews took a cause and effect approach, they aimed to quantify movement and the effect it had on reducing the length of time in labour. They failed to take into account other factors which impacted on the process of labour, did not justify why length of time in labour mattered and had maternal comfort as a minor outcome that movement had on the labour process. These were all from a very medical perspective yet these reviews and other which were similar in methodology were the main source of evidence and research which inform the NICE intrapartum guidelines.

arm glasto call the midwifeThis led me to question why quantitative, positivist, obstetric knowledge formed the basis of midwifery practice for normal birth and what sources of knowledge did women, midwives and obstetricians use in practice.

Midwifery knowledge

I then went on to review the midwifery knowledge around movement in labour. What I found was very different from the medical cause and effect perspective. From a historical perspective, the literature looked at how women had moved during birth in their homes supported by other women. As midwifery knowledge was documented, the physical process of birth is explored in the context of the woman and the fetus. Movement is something that women do during birth as part of the process and can be used antenatally and during labour to aid fetal alignment.

This was the information I was looking for to help women in clinical practice, I questioned if this was being used. Movement doesn’t have to have an outcome according to some of this literature but it is what women do spontaneously. But I questioned why this knowledge is absent from guidelines and good practice within many hospital labour wards.

Knowledge of physiology is deemed as expert opinion and therefore of low quality. Physiology is the basis for most midwifery knowledge. How can an understanding of how the body works, and using that knowledge be ‘low quality’ evidence? Does this mean that midwifery knowledge is not as worthy as RCT’s, systematic reviews, meta- analysis? Knowledge that is gained from working with women, observing birth and the moves that women make, knowledge of the physiology of birth which few obstetricians learn.

Midwives and women

I have now collected the data for my research from midwives and women and I am in the process of transcribing and analysing. I am beginning to identify how the midwives in the study gain knowledge around movement during birth and what barriers there are to implementing this knowledge.

Arm me glastoFrom the data gained from the women I have interviewed I am finding how women gain knowledge around movement during birth. Unsurprisingly, despite the huge amount of information available to women, midwives continue to be the main source of knowledge.

The 3rd year; the end is insight

I am loving my PhD journey, I love to study and I am really grateful that I have the opportunity to teach within the midwifery department. The biggest struggles for me have been the diminished contact with the outside world whilst cocooned in the library and the financial pressure going back to full time study has meant. But as 2016 emerges, so do my hopes and expectations for the fruition of my research, study, self-development and new opportunities this course has given me.

Bev Jervis, 

Ph.D. student,

School of Nursing, Midwifery, and Social Work & Social Sciences, University of Salford.



Grounded but not yet settled-telling my refugee story

6 January 2016
A tale of 2 continents

A tale of 2 continents

From a tiny town in South-west Somalia to numerous African countries, I spent a great deal of my adult life on the move looking for a place to call home. In 2008, I arrived in Birmingham through refugee family reunion and soon joined Dialogue Direct (a fundraising agency) as a community fundraiser, a role I cherish to this day. I spent nearly two years working with Dialogue Direct and held several posts including fundraising supervisor. In the spring of 2010 and after failing to gain further promotion, I left my job and returned to education to pursue a career in social research.

At first, it was all but daunting-I did know much about higher education in the United Kingdom; it was completely a new experience and a new beginning for me but I dreamed of achieving good grades and graduating with good Honours degree.


The waltz goes on

13 December 2015

2006 – The beginning

Wearing traditional Romanian costume – 200 years old

In 2006 I stepped first on Salford grounds. It was a long journey having to deal with registration, games, prizes, new colleagues and tutors before I settled into life as a Salford Business School student. My head was buzzing, but what I often recall is one evening at work in a movie rental store in Curry Mile Manchester. Nothing unusual – computers switched on, clients around, and my friends, who came to keep me company. A couple interrupted the routine asking for a poster. I asked them to return in a week and they walked towards the front door. Suddenly the guy turned around and joyfully said: “I know you, I know you – you are Cristina from Romania. I know you from the University of Salford”.  My friends burst into laughter and ever since I remained ‘Cristina from Romania’ 🙂


Meet our Jeanne

30 November 2015

Dr Jeanne Lythgoe.jpgI have now been a Lecturer in Midwifery at Salford for 5 years after spending 30 years in practice. I really enjoy the challenges of teaching the next generation of midwives. In July this year I achieved my Professional Doctorate and still find it difficult to believe I have actually finished it! Being a doctorate student as a member of staff has been an interesting experience. I have found that the support of colleagues and supervisors has been invaluable, they have encouraged me to keep going, offered pearls of wisdom, even covering my work at crucial times. I cannot thank them all enough, particularly my supervisors.  I have to admit it is quite stressful knowing all your inevitable ups and downs are played out in full view of colleagues but overall I feel it would have been more difficult to achieve my doctorate had I been working in an environment where they did not appreciate the effort and stress involved in completing a PhD.


From Salford to Calais

25 October 2015

CQ0KY9hWEAEx0wCWe did it! We planned it, we organised it, and we got it spot on. However, not in 1 million years could we have imagined what we would find there.

Seven vans travelled in convoy. Key 103 accompanied us for some accurate reporting. Justin from key not only reported on what we were doing, but he rolled his sleeves up and was just amazing.

The journey to Folkestone was tiring but straightforward. Police checks were over the top, but we think we need to bear in mind the security of all people who pass through borders. Non the less there was a strong sense that we were being stalled.


From King Saud University, Riyadh to University of Salford, Manchester

13 October 2015

SabahI am Sabah Alsomali, Ph.D. researcher
second year at University of Salford, School: Nursing, Midwifery, and Social Work & Social Sciences.

I have been interested in nursing and patient care from the age of 14 years old when I chose to follow the footstep of my eldest sister who was a working as a nurse. Her attitude towards nursing inspired me so much so that I wished to be like her and make a contribution to caring for people who are in hospital.  Consequently I enrolled at King Saud Nursing College, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and I qualified in 1989 when I was successful in attaining my Diploma in General Nursing.  Subsequently, I undertook a variety of roles in gynaecology, antenatal care and in particular medical care.