Finally, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. The first three years of the PhD were very intense. As I predicted at the beginning if the first year, there was no time to waste and no time for holiday. Seriously, sleeping in the bed with a common cold felt like a holiday.
My PhD research was majorly slowed down due to COVID, because I could not get access to laboratory equipment. Even afterwards when laboratories were finally open, I still could not access half of the equipment, since face-to-face training was not safe during the time of high COVID infections. As all other researchers, I got frustrated because I had to change all my plans.
Nevertheless, it feels nice now when I have finally reached many of the milestones. I successfully passed my 2nd year transfer viva. At the end of the 3rd year, I also made a draft for a potential publication. Only this summer (after 2.5 years of work) I finally performed my first laboratory experiment. During the experiment I validated my FEA models for tibial insert deformation under static compression. I still have one more year left, and I hope that I will manage to perform one more experiment on a knee simulator.
I even got lucky to go on an industry placement. I went to Switzerland to work for four weeks at an orthopaedic implant manufacturing company Medacta International. Funny enough, this one-month placement took me two years of struggle in planning. It all started on September 2019 when I first applied for the Translate Medtech secondment scheme to receive additional scholarship for my placement. Then my three-month placement was approved to take place in September 2020, but it got cancelled because of COVID-19. Then I re-applied to go on a placement in September 2021, but the application was rejected at the final stage by the Swiss government, because the UK was no more part of the EEA. I was rescued only by the fact that I have a Latvian passport and as a citizen of an EU country I was finally allowed to go on the internship in November 2021. Thanks to Translate Medtech, my university academics, and Medacta International, I was able to gain industry experience, which was a rare opportunity, and I was very happy about it.