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Greater Manchester health professionals reflect on ‘invaluable’ CRN-funded development programme

Health professionals have explained how a CRN Greater Manchester (CRN GM) funded development programme has given them the tools and confidence to pursue a career in research.  

Eight colleagues from local NHS partner organisations were funded by CRN GM to be part of the 2021/22 Early Career Researcher Pathway delivered by NHS R&D North West

The programme is open to North West-based nurses, midwives and allied health professionals who are educated to degree level and who can demonstrate a significant interest and commitment to health and social care research.

The latest nine-month programme concluded on 24 March 2022 with a celebratory event in Liverpool which was attended by the CRN GM and CRN North West Coast cohorts. 

Sarah Fallon, our Chief Operating Officer, joined CRN NWC's Deputy Chief Operating Officer Vicky Wilkinson to congratulate the cohort, who each gave presentations on their five-year plans for how they intend to implement their learnings and experience from the programme. 

Members of the Greater Manchester 2021/22 cohort have outlined how the course has supported their development and how future applicants could also benefit. 

Katy Boland, a Physiotherapist at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“I’d highly recommend the programme to anyone looking to take the first steps toward a research career. Personally, I’ve gone from being unsure of where to start, to having a five-year development plan and the knowledge, skills and support network to execute it. The team are amazing and the taught content is delivered in a unique, innovative way. The opportunity to access mentoring and coaching has been invaluable.”

Ruth Haas Eckersley, a Public Health Nurse at Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“When the advert for the innovative nine-month NIHR Early Career Researcher Development Pathway Programme arrived in my inbox, I knew I wanted to apply and was lucky to be successful. And what an opportunity it has been! 

“I loved being part of an inspiring like-minded group of 30 Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) and nurses, enjoyed working with leadership coaches and a range of visiting speakers from academic and clinical backgrounds. I observed research activity and have had fantastic support from a personal mentor. What an excellent first step to develop into a researcher which I would strongly recommend! It opened my mind to opportunities I never thought of.”

Katie Eves, a Specialist Physiotherapist at Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“The programme has helped me to develop my five-year career plan. I now have improved self awareness and feel more focused, confident and positive in my role to be research-active and promote a research culture within my team/Trust. I would encourage any AHP, nurse or midwife with an interest in research to apply. You will be well supported throughout and will develop lots of transferable skills in leadership whilst also gaining an awareness of research pathways and the opportunities out there.”

Charlotte Williams, a Physiotherapy Practitioner at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said:

“If you are like me and have an interest in research and a genuine enthusiasm to improve patient care but have no idea how to start to shape that journey, the ECR programme is perfect for you. If you want to open doors into an amazing world of warmth, encouragement, knowledge and be equipped with the skills required to build research questions and activity into your clinical roll, then the ECR programme is perfect for you. 

“This programme has given me more both professionally and personally than I could have ever envisaged and I am excited to take all I have learnt, with a network of support now around me to make my five-year clinical/research career plan and beyond a reality. Thank you so much for this opportunity.”

Sharon Cundy, Quality and Safety Lead for Clinical and Scientific Services at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, said: 

"The course has been amazing. The people I have met and the support given to start me on a research journey has been truly inspirational. I wholly recommend this course to everyone regardless of their speciality as the course is so diverse and inclusivity is pivotal."