Health and Social Care Careers

Dr Axilia Tanakasei Makoni

"Choose a topic that you are thoroughly passionate about"

Dr Axilia (Tana) Tanakasei Makoni, Professional Doctorate in Health Service Management graduate, now Lead for Infection Prevention and Control for Southend University Hospital.

Coming from a nursing background, my career aspiration was to become a leader in my specialist field at organisational level. Doing a doctorate let me cultivate my intellectual curiosity, professional growth and personal interests at the same time.

I chose to study at the University of Essex because it was recommended to me by a highly respected senior management director in my workplace, who told me that the university had an excellent reputation and was a supportive environment in which to pursue doctoral studies.

The doctoral programme equipped me with invaluable analytical and critical thinking skills, which have enhanced my ability to be creative and think outside the box in my current role, and helped me be a catalyst for positive change in a complex dynamic health service system with conflicting pressures and competing demands.

I particularly enjoyed the interaction and exchange of ideas involving several students from around the world, which brought diverse cultures and different perspectives of viewing the world to the classroom. I found this really informative, and it has really benefitted my current work. I also enjoyed participating in university research conference presentations and getting feedback from fellow students and lecturers, which enhanced my thesis.

My doctorate prepared me to succeed when making the transition into my challenging but extremely rewarding role as the lead for infection prevention and control at Southend University Hospital, which is part of Mid & South Essex hospital NHS Foundation Trust. I am also involved in charity work as a board member for Christ Ministries Church, an organisation that provides residential care for disadvantaged children between the ages of 12 and 19 years and offers high school education to mixed communities in Zimbabwe.

I would recommend anyone thinking of doing a postgraduate degree to choose a topic that you are thoroughly passionate about, self-motivation can be quite a challenge as working on the thesis can be an isolating experience at times. I would also say that forging a good relationship with your supervisor, managing your time effectively, and self-discipline are all critical facilitators to the successful completion of doctoral studies. And don’t procrastinate!