This chapter has presented eight detailed case studies of some of our successful professional doctorate graduates. They are from different backgrounds, completed different projects, studied for different lengths of time, and of course had different experiences along the way. So what can we learn from these? Despite the differences, there are also some common themes and important lessons that we hope will help to make the journey easier for you.The first thing to note is that all of our graduates had quite complex career histories and had migrated away from their first disciplines to a greater or lesser extent. In their doctorates they made use of this, reflecting back on their learning journey and building their experience into their doctoral work. Their work was very practical and not simply confined to one discrete discipline as you would normally find with a more traditional PhD. They crossed professional boundaries and made a contribution that was applicable to multi-professional working environments. (We explored some of the issues related to this multi-professionalism in Chapter 3.) It was this that gave most of our candidates their motivation to do the professional doctorate. Some had previously considered doing, or even tried to do, a PhD. However, it was the opportunity to utilise their professional knowledge and to develop it further in order to make a real practical contribution that made the professional doctorate a more appealing, and ultimately successful, option for them. The words that our candidates use give us some clue as to why this might be. They talk about their real passion for the subject and how that drove them on. Fiona describes how she was sometimes ‘blinded’ by her passion for her subject; Siobhan had such belief and passion for hers that achieving the doctoral qualification almost became simply a by-product! There is an important lesson in this for anyone embarking on this journey: you should choose a research area in which you are really interested. Better still, one that you are passionate about. Siobhan tells us that this journey is ‘not for the fainthearted’. It will often be difficult, but if you are truly passionate about what you are doing you are much more likely to succeed.
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