Student completed her PhD up against a different kind deadline after going into early labour
Published on 29 June 2022
A University of Dundee graduate has returned to Dundee for in-person graduation celebrations a year after completing her PhD under unique and challenging circumstances
A University of Dundee graduate has returned to Dundee for in-person graduation celebrations a year after completing her PhD under unique and challenging circumstances.
Sarah Mills officially graduated from the School of Medicine in 2021 and returned to the city on Wednesday for her in-person graduation ceremony.
Last year Sarah, 37, was faced with a high-risk pregnancy as she was completing her PhD thesis on ‘Use of Unscheduled Care by people who die from cancer’ and to prepare for her baby girl’s arrival she planned to submit her PhD six months early.
The high-risk nature of Sarah’s pregnancy meant she was prepared to go into labour at any moment, with an unusual addition to her birthing bag being the inclusion of her PhD notes.
Due to pre-eclampsia, a condition that causes high blood pressure during pregnancy and after labour, Sarah went into labour over a month early and finished her final PhD corrections on the labour ward.
“It was interesting doing a PhD while pregnant,” said Sarah. “It was a really high-risk pregnancy so I honestly enjoyed the all-consuming nature because it gave me a lot less time to be worrying about our baby. It certainly meant I was motivated to get everything finished.
“My original date was 17 March, but my supervisors, convener and reviewers were amazing and brought it forward because I developed pre-eclampsia. I sat my viva on 16 February and started having pregnancy complications very shortly thereafter. I copied my corrections list to the notes app on my phone, so actually wrote a lot of the corrections on my phone while on the labour ward at the hospital. Fortunately, they obstetric team were brilliant and managed things medically to buy us some more time.
“Our daughter was born a month early on 18 March and, after a week in NICU, we brought her home from the hospital on 23 March 2021, which was the day on which my PhD was conferred by the senate. I completely forgot about the meeting and only remembered that it had been awarded a week later.”
Sarah studied for her bachelor of science in medical science at the University of St Andrews, and completed her undergraduate medicine degree at the University of Cambridge. She is currently working as a Lecturer in General Practice at the University of St Andrews, and a GP Partner in Bank Street Medical Practice in Cupar.
The University’s Graduation ceremonies take place at Caird Hall from 22-24 June. Thousands of 2020 and 2021 graduates will also return to Dundee from 28 June-1 July for special ceremonies in lieu of their original graduations, which were unable to be held in person due to Covid-19 restrictions.
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