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Your path in research: Dr. Nikki Cotterill PhD BSc (Hons) RN

Your path in research: Dr. Nikki Cotterill PhD BSc (Hons) RN

As part of this year’s Your Path in Research campaign, we are sharing some inspiring stories from research staff in the West of England. 

We spoke with Dr. Nikki Cotterill PhD BSc (Hons) RN, Associate Professor in Continence Care and Florence Nightingale Foundation Leadership Scholar 2019 at Centre for Health and Clinical Research, University of the West of England (UWE), Continence Lead at Bristol Urological Institute, North Bristol Trust (NBT) and BABCON HIT Director at Bristol Health Partners, to find out more about her research journey and her advice for anyone looking to start a career in research. 


I started my research journey in 2003. There are lots of ways to get involved in research and I found there wasn’t a clear pathway for a nursing academic to follow. So, I carved my own, starting with a research post at Bristol Urological Institute NBT, where I was encouraged to start a PhD at the University of Bristol. A number of projects later I secured a Post-Doc Nurse Fellowship hosted by CLAHRC West (as it was) and UWE.

I am currently working at the Centre for Health and Clinical Research at UWE, but with a foot still in clinical as I have a secondment back to NBT, and I am also the Bladder and Bowel Confidence (BABCON) HIT Director for Bristol Health Partners.

What I like most about working in research is the opportunity to generate new knowledge that can really make a difference to people’s lives. Hearing what matters to patients and conducting projects to address these issues is fundamental to my drive to work in research.

My advice for someone interested in a career in research would be to talk to as many people as you can to hear about their journeys and look far and wide for opportunities that are available locally and nationally. Career paths in health research are often very different and are an exciting opportunity to shape your future.


Interested in finding out more about a career in research? As the largest funder of health (and care) research training in the UK, the NIHR can support you to develop your career in research. Find out more about Your Path in Research.