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International Women’s Day: “Approach those who you have seen walk the path and ask them to show you how.”

Harriet PRC website photo

This International Women’s Day we wanted to shine a spotlight on Harriet Morgan who works as a Clinical Research Physician at the NIHR Patient Recruitment Centre (PRC): Leicester and for the Leicester Diabetes Centre (LDC).

Harriet is originally from Kumasi in Ghana. After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Biology and a medical degree from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Harriet embarked on her career in healthcare. Harriet worked for a year at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, before moving to the Tema General Hospital. 

Harriet shares: “My experiences as a doctor in Ghana were both challenging and rewarding. I encountered diverse patient populations and medical challenges, all the while navigating resource constraints. However, these experiences also shaped me into a more resilient and compassionate healthcare provider.” 

Harriet developed a strong interest in diabetes care while working as a Medical Officer at Tema General Hospital, explaining: “I developed a keen interest in diabetes management while caring for patients. This interest prompted me to seek further specialisation in Internal Medicine at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital earning a dual Membership of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons as well as the West African College of Physicians. 

“Continuing my pursuit of knowledge and expertise, I enrolled in a Master of Science in Endocrinology and Diabetes at the Queen Mary University of London, which equipped me with advanced skills in managing these conditions. Throughout my career, I actively contributed to the healthcare landscape in Ghana, notably participating in the development of the country's first National Guidelines for the Management of Diabetes Mellitus.” 

It was a meeting with Professor Melanie Davies, Clinical Director for PRC: Leicester, at a conference that started her on the path to joining the LDC. Harriet continues: “I had been looking for an opportunity to further enhance my diabetes portfolio. While at an international diabetes conference, I came across Professor Davies who was one of the keynote speakers. She inspired me so much with her depth of knowledge that I thought to myself, wherever she worked must be a haven for excellence as well.” 

Harriet joined the PRC in July 2023 for a two-year post as a Clinical Research Physician and splits her time between diabetes research and diabetes clinical care. Harriet explains: “I am only a quarter-way through my thrilling 2-year post, and I have already found the time extremely rewarding.” 

Moving 3000 miles to begin working in the PRC and LDC was a big step, Harriet says: “The people are warm, friendly, and very kind. My apprehension about starting in an unfamiliar environment soon dissipated because I felt very supported by my colleagues.” 

Working for the LDC has allowed Harriet to learn a lot about how both diabetes care and research are conducted. Harriet explains: “I have been exposed to the full range of diabetes specialist services and I have learnt so much such as diabetes technology which was completely new to me; attending joint antenatal diabetes clinics; training in best research practices; screening, enrolling and following up research participants among many others.”  

In addition to her role as a Clinical Research Physician, Harriet is taking part in the NIHR Associate Principal Investigator (PI) scheme, a six-month in-work training opportunity, providing practical experience for healthcare professionals starting their research career.  

Harriet adds: “It has been a fantastic opportunity for learning what it takes to deliver real-world research.  Working closely with an established Principal Investigator in an ongoing study provides me with mentorship and guidance in my field of interest.” 

Professor Melanie Davies shared how pleased she is to have Harriet as part of the team: “We’re really delighted to have Harriet working with us for a couple of years from a different part of the world. It's inspiring to see women forging ahead with their careers and being such fantastic role models to other people coming through.” 

Harriet has plans to use the skills she gains during her time at the LDC to further her contributions to diabetes care in Ghana after her placement, saying: “I plan to return home at the end of my two-year placement. I am deeply grateful to my supportive family for their sacrifices, allowing me to pursue this opportunity. However, I see the rewards of this big sacrifice not only for myself but also for the potential for advancing diabetes care in Ghana. Interacting with numerous experts in the field has been incredibly enriching, and I am confident that the knowledge and skills I have gained will be invaluable upon my return.  

“I have also had the privilege of delving into a few research projects during my time here and aspire to lead my own projects in the future. Additionally, I aim to further expand the partnership between Ghana and Leicester, facilitating further training opportunities for upcoming specialty doctors. With these experiences and new skills under my belt, I am eagerly looking forward to the exciting opportunities that lie ahead.” 

When asked what she would like to say to women considering careers in medicine or who want to take their career to the next level Harriet said: “My advice to other women considering advancing their careers or starting in medicine is simple: go for it! Don't let anything hold you back. While it's true that balancing family and career can be challenging, remember that many successful women have paved the way, proving that it's possible to excel in both areas.  

“Don't hesitate to seek support from your loved ones and your community. Remember, it truly does take a village to achieve your goals, and there's no shame in asking for help when you need it. Trust in your abilities, stay focused on your goals and embrace the journey ahead with confidence and determination. You have the power to make your dreams a reality.  

“Approach those who you have seen walk the path and ask them to show you how.”