Who are you and what do you do?
I’m a Physiotherapist specialising in the care of older people. I have recently started a PhD in Public Health and Primary Care at the University of Cambridge funded by a Dunhill Medical Trust Research Training Fellowship.
How did you get involved in research and what research are you doing?
After working as a Physiotherapist for a couple of years I was fortunate to be offered a place to study part time for a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded ‘Clinical Research’ MSc at the University of Hertfordshire. After
graduating I worked closely with a research team at the University of East Anglia in my spare time focussing on the recovery of walking after stroke. My research focus changed in line with my clinical role at Addenbrooke’s, and since 2015 I have been working on a project to understand deconditioning and physical recovery of hospitalised older patients.
How do you combine your clinical work with your research work?
For a long time I was doing the vast majority of my research work in my own time, in the evenings and weekends, although the Physiotherapy department was able to assist with some days of paid study leave. The big difference came when I was awarded an Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust and NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre’s Research Training Fellowship. This gave me 6 months to focus solely on my research and applications for funding for a PhD.
What advice would you give to someone who was thinking of carrying out their own research study?
Pick a research area that interests you, rather than an area that is suggested to you, the chances are you will be working on this topic for many years, and possibly quite a considerable amount of your own time until you get funding. Find a supervisor who is interested in your development and training as well as completing the study. Keep an eye out for opportunities such as small bits of funding, free courses, possible collaborations. Find out about other research teams around Cambridge, chances are there will be other teams working in very similar areas with a wealth of expertise.