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Case study: “It’s knowing that I'm doing something positive” – East of England Children’s Physiotherapist shares his motivations for research

Shaping the Future - David Young, Children's Physiotherapist at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

David Young is a Children's Physiotherapist based at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH).

Having successfully completed a master’s degree funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), followed by an NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship, he is now delivering his own research as part of his PhD at the University of East Anglia (UEA).

David, who has worked in the NHS for many years as a physiotherapist, has always been interested in patients and families’ hospital experience and how they then go on to deliver rehabilitation to children at home.

He admits that at the start of his career, despite being intrigued by the idea of doing his own research, he always felt it was “beyond” him and that there was a lack of time to be able to commit to research alongside his full time role as a physiotherapist. He said:

“As I went through my career, I saw more opportunities became available, such as a master’s course and a PhD, and I realised that I did have quite useful questions to ask and that I could be the one to help answer those questions.

“As soon as you start to express an interest in being involved in research, a whole heap of opportunities arise and lots of people are very interested in what you've got to say, and want to be involved in doing research with you.”

David’s research focuses on children’s physiotherapy and how the child and family are supported in making adjustments in the home environment once they leave hospital.

On his favourite aspects of research, David enjoys connecting with people. He said:

“I love the idea of working together with patients, the public and colleagues to address a research question and to help shape my research.

“It’s knowing that I'm doing something positive that motivates me to do the research.”

David’s advice for others on how they can pursue their path in research is to pick a question that they want answered. He said:

“It’s all about taking the first step and having the confidence to say that you have something to contribute to the evidence base that's out there, and trying to work out what the question is you want to focus on.

“There is a lot of hard work involved, but it's important to remember that you're not alone in doing that hard work and that there are many others around you who may have done something similar, or who can offer some support.”

David notes that the NIHR has been imperative to supporting his research journey. He said:

“The NIHR are very helpful in terms of supporting you and linking you in with others who can give you guidance.”

“They are really keen in supporting groups of professionals who are underrepresented in research to build their research portfolio to give them the opportunity to do research, and really to integrate that into clinical practice.”

Find out how you can shape the future of health and care research.