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Case study: 70@70 Senior Nurse Research Leader, Lee Tomlinson explains how she started her research career and why she enjoys working in research

For this year's Your Path in Research campaign CRN KSS talks to people working in research about how they started their path to research and what advice they would give to people wanting to learn more about a career in research.

How did you start your research career?

My first taste of research was when senior nurses in the intensive care unit I was working in opened a commercial study. I then became involved in research myself while working as an Upper Gastrointestinal Nurse Specialist. I was working with the Oncology Research Nurses who were great mentors. I was soon leading on pre-malignant studies which I found totally fascinating.

I’ve also had personal experience of taking part in research when I was approached by the midwife who delivered my twin babies to join a research study looking at their growth, eating behaviours, appetite, and the home environment. At the age of 13 years old they are still part of one of the richest early growth data sets in the world (GEMINI) and are now contributing their own data via questionnaires too.


What do you enjoy about working in research?

Research is such a positive environment to work in. It’s unusual to come across someone who is not interested in what you are doing - including patients, the public, and colleagues. I am proud to be part of a community that is challenging the ‘norm’ and is constantly striving for improvement, be that to an individual’s quality of life, better treatment, or increased understanding.


What advice would you give to colleagues who want to learn more about a career in research?

Give colleagues a call, find out what research is being carried out in your specialist area, or on a topic that is close to your heart. Consider areas in your own working environment that may have questions surrounding them. It doesn’t have to be a way to do things better, it could be that you want to understand more about what it is like for someone to live with a particular health condition. Have a chat with your local Research Facilitator or R&D department and talk through opportunities to get more involved. Get on Twitter and join the conversations #whywedoresearch, and find peers interested in the same things as you.