Get to know PhD Student -Tracy Alexis Kakyo


In this month’s newsletter, we would like to introduce PhD student, Tracy Kakyo from the College of of  Nursing and Health Sciences.

Tracy’s recently submitted thesis, “Exploring mentoring for hospital nurses/midwives in Uganda: A mixed methods study” received outstanding results from the examiners.

We asked Tracy to share what led her to a Phd, why it is important, the most enjoyable and hardest parts of a PhD journey and what the future holds.

Tell us about your research

I examined the existing mentoring programs and activities designed to assist new graduate nurses in their transition from supervised students to independent clinicians in acute care settings.  I found that the nurses/midwives in Ugandan hospitals relied on informal mentoring to support new graduates. These mentoring relationships formed spontaneously based on the shared need for mentoring. The depth of these relationships was characterised by high-quality interactions, although some negative experiences were also evident. Within these hospitals, mentoring is driven by a sacred code of communal norms, a sense of duty to support and serve for the greater good of the novices, as well as the patients they cared for. Senior nurses and midwives, driven by intrinsic motivation, offer support without expecting rewards, even amidst challenges. These findings led to the development of a Mentoring Framework, which can be tailored to design formal mentoring programs that suit the cultural context of Uganda.

What led you to undertake a PhD? What inspired or motivated you?

About 13 years ago, when I started my career in bedside nursing, my experiences fell short of my expectations. Although I saw nurses deeply care for their patients, this care didn’t seem to extend to the support they provided to young professionals like myself. Despite the existence of formal support programs and officers, I still felt unsupported. The dynamic and overwhelming nature of clinical practice made me wonder if I was alone in these feelings. Driven by this, I sought to understand which programs were most effective and how I could help future graduates and nurses/midwives returning to clinical practice adjust more smoothly.

How did your supervisors support you during your candidature?

I have been fortunate to work with Professor Lily Xiao since I began my Master of Nursing in 2014. She has been instrumental in shaping me into the researcher I am today. My second supervisor, Prof. Diane Chamberlain, started out with me at the beginning of my PhD journey, providing crucial support from the initial conceptualization of my idea. Their guidance continues even after my PhD, affirming that I have found lifelong mentors.

How has your PhD influenced your future career? Where do you see your career heading in the future?

For now, I plan to continue my career in academia. I am passionate about addressing the professional issues that impact nurses because I believe these issues trickle down and affect the quality of care we deliver. While many clinicians and researchers (in my region) focus on patient care, I believe it’s equally important to support and care for the nurses who take care of the patients.

What advice would you give to those who are about to undertake a PhD?  

To go ahead and DO IT!

Have you published anything?

We have had four publications out of the PhD project:

  1. Kakyo, T. A., Xiao, L. D., & Chamberlain, D. (2022). Benefits and challenges for hospital nurses engaged in formal mentoring programs: A systematic integrated review. International nursing review, 69(2), 229-238.
  2. Kakyo, T.A., Xiao, L.D. & Chamberlain, D. (2023) Evaluating psychometric properties of three mentoring scales among nurses and midwives in hospital settings: A methodological study. International Nursing Review, 00, 1–11.
  3. Kakyo, T. A., Xiao, L. D., & Chamberlain, D. (2024). Exploring the dark side of informal mentoring: Experiences of nurses and midwives working in hospital settings in Uganda. Nursing Inquiry; e12641.
  4. Kakyo, T.A., Xiao, L.D. & Chamberlain, D. (2024) The role of motivation in the initiation and maintaining mentoring relationships among nurses and midwives. International Nursing Review, 1–13.
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