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Doré Young, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust Doctoral Clinical Academic Bridging Fellow
This month our blog posts are focused around our capacity building work, and in this Q&A Doré Young shares her experiences of completing our internship programme – including the ways it helped influence her decision to pursue a clinical academic career.
Could you provide an overview of your current role by way of introduction?
My current clinical role is as a highly specialised Musculoskeletal (MSK) Physiotherapist working for Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT). I am employed by the community division, and work at several health centres, GP practices and community venues across central Manchester. I am the clinical lead for our back pain team and have a special interest in the use of psychologically informed approaches in the management of chronic low back pain (CLBP).
My current academic role is as an MFT doctoral clinical academic bridging fellow. I am currently working on developing my doctoral research proposal which aims to explore compassion focused approaches in the management of CLBP in primary care, MSK physiotherapy.
What attracted you to the CLAHRC GM internship programme?
I first became interested in the internship when I realised that I had questions which couldn’t be answered by the current evidence. At that point I suspected that I would enjoy undertaking a research project but had no idea whether I had the skills or ability to be successful! The CLAHRC GM internship programme offered the perfect introduction into the world of research.
How did you find out about the internship programme?
I saw a CLAHRC project that I thought was interesting from a clinical perspective and rang the co-ordinator to ask about the project findings and methodology. They were really helpful, and it eventually led to an informal chat about CLAHRC GM itself and the available internships.
How would you sum up your experiences? What were the most useful (and/or challenging) bits?
I can honestly say that the CLAHRC GM internship has been completely career changing for me. To be given the opportunity, protected time and encouragement to undertake a research project of my choice felt like such a privilege. I made the most of it, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute!
Working in the community can be isolating, so having supervision in both my clinical and academic fields has been instrumental in my development. Working with a network of like-minded individuals and experts has been truly inspirational.
Managing a clinical and academic workload is very challenging. You can feel pulled in different directions, therefore it requires excellent organisational and time management skills. Secondly, whilst being surrounded by people with greater knowledge and experience than yourself is inspirational, it can also be very daunting. I’d be lying if I said there haven’t been moments of self-doubt along the way.
At what point in the programme did you consider pursuing further study and was there anything in the programme which helped inform this decision?
Very early into the internship I realised that I wanted to embark upon a clinical academic career. The CLAHRC GM team worked collaboratively with our trust’s Research and Innovation team to inform me of the different options and support me with my application for my current fellowship.
Do you think (during the course of the internship) you changed any previously held assumptions about your working identity?
Absolutely. The knowledge, skills and confidence it cultivated has shaped my future ambitions and changed the way I view myself in terms of my identity as a whole. Prior to this, I saw myself purely as a ‘clinical’ physiotherapist and now I see myself as a clinical academic.
I also realise that I have a role as a woman in research and an AHP in research, both of which have historically been under represented
Was there a particular point, or event that prompted this? Or, was it more of an organic change that happened over time?
I think it has been a summation of all the achievements and challenges over the course of both the internship and fellowship. There were obvious moments like my first publication and national conference presentation, which felt like big achievements that altered how I viewed my professional self.
However, a formative moment for me recently, was when a current intern said she had applied for the internship after hearing me speak at our trust’s research conference. The realisation that not only had I been inspired but had also inspired someone else, was very humbling.
How does your research work fit with your current clinical practice? And how do you see your career developing in the future?
I do a 50:50 split between my clinical and academic work. As they’re both within the same field, they supplement each other. For example; I can apply recent academic reading to my clinical practice and my regular patient contact ensures my research stays clinically relevant.
How has being part of the internship programme influenced this?
The CLAHRC GM supported the early development of my research skills, allowed me to design the research project, collect the data and analyse the results. It transitioned successfully into my current doctoral bridging fellowship.
During which, I have gained my supervisory team, worked up and published my work, presented at several conferences, and have developed my current doctoral proposal. I hope to continue along the National Institute for Health Research clinical academic pathway via a successful clinical research doctoral fellowship application this year.
What would you say to someone else considering the CLAHRC GM internship programme?
Choose a topic you’re passionate about, that is clinically relevant and achievable in the allocated time frame. I was pleasantly surprised at the impact a small research project could have.
When applying have a research question in mind, but prepare to be flexible. My question and methodology changed several times, through constructive feedback and developing research related skills.
Do you have any advice for other practitioners wishing to dip their toes into research?
Foster resilience – research involves frequent constructive criticism, justification of your research, rejection and tenacity. It is all part of the developmental process and you will come out of it with more self-confidence and broader shoulders.
Be brave – chat to that professor, use your twitter account to share your opinion, or ask a question at conference. In my experience, even the experts remember how nerve-racking it can be as an early career researcher. Expanding your network can result in the most unexpected and exciting opportunities, so don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.
Date Published: 26/02/2019