I asked some colleagues and “rising stars” to share their experiences of joining our research team, connecting undergraduate study and NHS practice to every day research activity.
Jenny is a Podiatry BSc student working with us over the summer (with Dr Carina Price), Shenaz and Charlotte Sedgwick are Podiatrists working part time on a clinical trial (with Dr Farina Hashmi and Dr Dan Parker), and Charlotte Growcott is a Psychologist working as part of the Great Foundations initiative (about children’s feet) (with me and lots of others:)).
Why did you want to get involved in research?
Charlotte S: My recent undergraduate Podiatry degree involved completing a quantitative research project as part of a multidisciplinary student group. This process and my tutors’ enthusiasm sparked my interest to do more research.
Shenaz: From the day I submitted my undergraduate dissertation I felt motivated about undertaking research and had the desire to do more. I did an MSc in Podiatry including a research dissertation focussed on peripheral arterial disease. I was constantly looking out for opportunities, I participated in a focus group for a study at Southampton University, I also joined social media to network and attended research workshops. I completed the GCP online training to enable me to understand how research in the NHS operates.
Charlotte G: After completing my master’s degree in neuropsychology (my first degree was psychology) I applied for various psychology posts but having completed some research for both my undergraduate and master’s degree I decided to give it a go.
Jenny: As a student allied health professional (Podiatry BSc (Hons)) I have really enjoyed seeing the impact that my work has on individual patients. If you are successful in your career as a researcher you have the opportunity to benefit a much larger population by changing the way healthcare is provided and improving treatment options and outcomes. The nature of research also really appeals to me: I work best when I’m continually being challenged and from the limited experience I’ve had that is certainly true. Each step of the research process requires a different skill set and requires you to learn and grow as an individual.
What did you do last week? or what does a typical day involve?
Jenny: As I’ve been on a ten week internship my experience has been a whistle stop tour of running a research project. My work has been so varied that I haven’t really had a ‘typical’ day! Initially I spent a lot of time reading and writing to complete my ethics application. Once I was able to start data collection my days consisted of interacting with participants, organising appointments and collating the data into a manageable form. Now I’m preparing to write a paper on the outcomes so I’m analysing data and writing about my findings.
Charlotte S: I went out to meet with one of the clinical site research teams involved in our LLIFT study (a clinical trial about healing chronic leg ulcers using a negative pressure boot). Back at the University we completed a series of wound models captured using a 3D scanner and we are currently assessing wound geometry using 3D imaging.
Shenaz: My typical day (in a NHS clinic) is treating high risk patients and dealing with MSK issues. My clinical work creates opportunities for me to raise new questions and this is when my research passion kicks in. I mention research to my patients and talk to them about how they can get involved. Posters on the wall don’t always catch the patient’s attention and by talking to them about research they can start to understand its value and decide if they would like to play a part. Patients tell me I am a very passionate podiatrist!
Charlotte G: At the moment I am coding qualitative data, however I recently received ethics approval to conduct new research. I keep in contact with our partners at the University of Brighton so I spend a bit of my time on Skype. Fortunately, I also get to help out with a lot of other “loose ends” in the department – one week I could be participating in a PhD project or being a ‘test dummy’ for an ultrasound project, and the next I could be helping out in the baby lab and assisting with collecting measures from adorable little baby feet.
What has been the biggest surprise?
Jenny: Before I started I was nervous to be working with the researchers that I have read so much about, I was worried that I’d feel really out of my depth and inexperienced. Instead I’ve been pleasantly surprised by just how approachable and kind everyone is. The whole team just wants to support you and is eager to share their experience and knowledge with you to help you with your work.
Charlotte G: How friendly everyone is! People who are a lot more experienced than me might be intimidating but that couldn’t be further from the truth. As a psychology graduate working in a completely different field I have never felt more included and encouraged to participate. It is a unique experience which has developed me in valuable ways.
Charlotte S: The opportunity to travel and the research challenges this role is presenting in such a short space of time; as well as the inspirational people I see and have access to each day!
Shenaz: It is hard to do research in combination with clinical commitments!