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Case study: “There’s never been a more exciting time to be involved in research!”

Shape the Future: Growing nursing, midwifery and allied health professional research

Dr Catherine Gooday, whose research career has spanned over 15 years, is the NIHR Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions (NMAHP) Research Lead at the Clinical Research Network (CRN) East of England.

Alongside this leadership role, Catherine is a Principal Podiatrist at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Catherine plays a key role in the ongoing engagement, development, and oversight of the region’s NMAHP research workforce.

Providing a vital link between the local CRN and national office, she works in partnership with the NIHR Nursing and Midwifery office to support the delivery of a CRN-wide Nursing and Midwifery Plan.

The nursing and midwifery professions make up a large proportion of the delivery workforce for the CRN, and Catherine provides a key voice for these, and all AHP staff members.

Taking her first step in a research career

Catherine’s career in research began over 15 years ago when she worked on research studies which were testing interventions for healing foot ulcers quicker.

Following this, Catherine worked for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to help develop guidelines for the management of diabetic foot.

This project opened Catherine’s eyes to the lack of high-quality evidence on the topic, and she wanted to improve the outcomes and experiences of the patients who attended her clinic.

This spurred Catherine on to do her own research, so she applied for an NIHR Fellowship PhD, which she worked on over a period of five years and completed in 2022. She said:

“One of the things I really enjoyed during my PhD was the opportunity to spend time listening to people and understanding what it’s like to have a diabetic foot problem and how it affects them and their families, both emotionally and physically.

“I think that’s the thing that really impacted me the most and is the piece of research that I’m most proud of, because it will really make a difference to the people using our services.”

Since completing her PhD, Catherine has applied for further funding to develop a feasibility study to look at reducing the risk of people developing foot ulceration and to improve treatments.

Expanding the NIHR’s NMAHP research community

Catherine returned to clinical practice full time after her studies, but was keen to continue her research journey, and she successfully applied for the role of NMAHP Research Lead at CRN East of England in April 2023. She said:

“This role has enabled me to share my experiences of research and to support other nurses, midwives and AHPs to develop their own research and their career aspirations.

“There’s never been a more exciting time to be a nurse, midwife or AHP who wants to be involved in research, as the Department of Health and Social Care along with the NIHR have invested £30m in supporting all these professions to become research active.

“We know that staff who are involved in research are more satisfied in their roles, and we know that services which use best evidence-based practice have the best outcomes for their patients and the services are more cost-effective.”

“I am really excited to have the opportunity to work with CRN East of England to further expand and embed the role of nurses, midwives, and AHPs in research, in order to develop an innovative, supported, and sustainable research active community across the East of England.”

Find out how the NIHR can support you in developing your research career and shape the future for research.