Developing People

Below are some of our PhD students, Fellows and Interns personal stories to reflect the many varied career paths available and to give you real life examples of the career paths you could follow. This information has been compiled for our wordpress blog, where you can find information about CLAHRC and opportunities

Jessica Shipley Post Masters Research Internship

I am a Spinal Extended Scope Physiotherapist working within the Musculoskeletal directorate. Having undertaken my MSc in Advancing Physiotherapy from Sheffield Hallam University, 

I was successful with applying for a post masters NIHR CLAHRC/BRU Research Internship where I worked and was mentored by colleagues within CLAHRC and D4D. Since then I have taken on the role of Principle Investigator for 2 different national portfolio studies with a spinal theme. This involvement with research has led me on to set up the MSK Research Implementation Group, which meets on a quarterly basis and has 40 members signed up, and is looking to recruit more! An aim for the coming year is to assist in further developing the MSK care group research 

Carol Keen Masters in Clinical Research placement

I undertook an MSc in Clinical Research on a part time basis from 2011 to 2013. Having no previous research experience, I had a bit of a steep learning curve, but enjoyed the challenge and opportunity enormously.

During the course we had placements in practical research setting and I undertook mine in the Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC). I was able to see research in action, and to be part of a small study. The contact I developed in that placement offered me opportunities for my dissertation. I was also offered a part-time secondment in the CLAHRC which ran for 18 months, including a period beyond the end of course.

On my return to clinical work I was keen to continue with research activity. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy offers research funding to “novice” researchers, so in collaboration with a more experience researcher from SHU I applied and was successful in receiving a grant for £20,000 to investigate current physiotherapy practice in patients with pulmonary hypertension. This study has been underway now for 18 months: data collection is complete and we are bringing together our analysis and writing up findings. We will also be exploring what the next opportunities from this research will be.

I was co-applicant on a bid for NIHR funding to investigate the feasibility of pre-habilitation for patients with myeloma who will be undertaking a bone marrow transplant. This has been a great opportunity to work with a larger research team, alongside more experienced researchers and recruiting patients in an NHS setting. Recruitment in this study is underway and we have very positive feedback from participants.

Through my MSc and CLAHRC secondments I was given a great deal of support and encouragement to pursue research opportunities. I have sought several opportunities, grants and positions in the last few years, not all of which have been successful. However each time I feel that I have gained something through seeking each opportunity: I have learned a lot, made contacts, extended networks, and increased awareness of my skills and areas of interest. All of these things have allowed me the achievements described here, and hopefully more going forward. I would encourage others to do the same. 

Catherine Beaumont Integrated Academic Internship Programme

I recently completed the Health Education England, Integrated Academic Internship Programme. As part of this, I spent time shadowing clinical academics and researchers at The Academic Unit of Elderly Care and Rehabilitation, part of the Bradford Institute of Health Research, based at Bradford Teaching Hospitals Foundation NHS Trust.

One of the course outputs was to produce a poster for the ‘Let’s Talk Research’ Conference in Manchester on the 15th and 16th September 2016, aimed at early career researchers. I based my poster around The Study of Resourcefulness in Later Life (SoReLL), part of the work for which I shadowed during my placement (See below).

The Chief Investigator for this study was Dr. Rebecca Hawkins. This work has been funded and supported by the NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care Yorkshire and the Humber (NIHR CLAHRC YH).

This aim of the study was to understand how frail, older people develop resourcefulness. It also sought to find out how such people manage and how formal services can offer support to enhance resourcefulness.

Preliminary findings from interviews identified specific themes. These included: planning and thinking about the future, developing strategies to manage health, every day and household tasks, maintaining a valued role in the family and wider community and developing strategies to get out and about.

More information about the Sorrel Project can be found here.


Authors: Dr. Rebecca Hawkins (1,2) Dr. Andrew Clegg (2,1), Professor Gail Mountain (3), Dr. Lina Masana (2), Dr. Lesley Brown (2), Anne Heaven (2), Catherine Beaumont (4).
University of Leeds; 2. The Academic Unit of Elderly Care and Rehabilitation, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; 3. University of Bradford, 4. Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

The Study of Resourcefulness in Later Life (SoReLL) was funded and supported by the NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care Yorkshire and the Humber (NIHR CLAHRC YH).

The Integrated Academic Internship Programme was funded by Health Education England and run by Research North West.

Catherine Beaumont is employed by the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.The opinions and views expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily those of the University of Leeds, the University of Bradford, the NIHR, the NHS or the Department of Health. 

Rachel King: PhD student at ScHARR, funded by NIHR CLAHRC YH

On 6th – 8th July 2016 I attended an NIHR Infrastructure Doctoral Research Training Camp at Ashridge Business School. I have just completed my first year of PhD so it was a good time to consolidate my learning. The only way I can describe the experience is like taking part in an episode of ‘The Apprentice’ based at ‘Hogwarts School’.

It was a fantastic 3 day course that included seminars followed by a team challenge which involved preparing a fictitious funding bid. We had 24 hours to develop a study design and complete a funding application including costings to win a £500,000 grant.

During the challenge we could make 10 minute appointments with the Director of the funding body, the Director of Finance, qualitative and quantitative advisors, and a PPI advisor. We were also interrupted at regular intervals to add an element of chaos to the exercise!

Our group discussed the proposed study all day including breakfast, lunch, and dinner, not even stopping for a drink (although the food was amazing!). However we were allocated a mentor (Professor), who was not able to give us advice, but did keep us hydrated! My contributions to the application included the qualitative methods, PPI, and lay summary sections, as well as shaping the initial study design.

On the final day we presented the study proposal to a funding panel, and audience of about 70, then answered questions from the panel (on stage).

It was a great experience, especially as my team won the challenge out of 9 teams! I’m so grateful to Jo Cooke at NIHR CLAHRC YH for putting my name forward for this brilliant training opportunity. I discovered that there’s no better way to learn how to write a bid than being thrown in at the deep end!!

Rachel King
PhD student at ScHARR, funded by NIHR CLAHRC YH, Translating Knowledge into Action Theme

An ethnographic study of the knowledge mobilisation (KM) activities of advanced nurse practitioners (ANPs) in discharging patients with exacerbations of long term conditions (LTCs) from the emergency department (ED)

Dr Joe Langley NIHR Knowledge Mobilsation Fellowship

I have recently been awarded an NIHR Knowledge Mobilisation Research Fellowship. It will start in April and run for 3 years at 70%FTE.

In this project, I aim to understand how User-centred Design theory and practice might help mobilise tacit and research knowledge into something usable in everyday life or practice. I have posted a little bit more here. The fellowship is co-hosted between Sheffield Hallam University and CLAHRC YH. My mentors are Prof Paul Chamberlain (Design, SHU), Jo Cooke (Health research, CLAHRC YH) and Prof Jo Rycroft-Malone (KM, Bangor University)

I hope to learn from the TK2A project team as I progress through my fellowship, that you will critically review my work so that I can benefit from your experience, support and advice.

Rachel King PhD Study as a Mature Student: Mid-life Crisis or the Perfect Career Move?

Not everyone goes straight into a PhD after a Masters. Rachel King is a mature PhD student at the University of Sheffield. In the first of a series of posts she describes her experiences of returning to do postgraduate research later in a career.
 After 15 years of working as a nurse I’ve recently embarked on a new challenge: a full time PhD in Health Research. So, was this a mid-life crisis? Or will it end up being one of the best career decisions I’ve ever made?
My friends and family mock me by suggesting the former. Personally, I’d argue that 38 isn’t nearly mid-life – and surely my husband’s obsession with lycra and road bikes is a much more common symptom! In any case, this blog series will follow my PhD and find out!

Making the decision:  So why, at this time in my life, have I decided to make this move?
The opportunity to study for a doctorate was first offered to me immediately after completing a Masters degree, however I had been working as a nurse for a year, and was newly married.

That certainly did not feel like the right time to be starting a PhD. I was a novice in my chosen profession and needed to pay the mortgage. Then came kids! Juggling part-time work and childcare left little time to think about myself, let alone a career change.

I steadily progressed from a hospital staff nurse to a primary care advanced nurse practitioner for substance misusers. My nursing career has been extremely rewarding, and, at times, challenging. It has also raised numerous questions about why – and how – groups of people behave the way they do.

I found myself pondering, while bandaging the leg ulcers of injecting drug users, the most appropriate qualitative methods to explore certain questions, like ‘what motivates people to stop injecting drugs?’.

So, two years ago I decided that it would be a good time to start looking for PhD opportunities. I was hopeful that I had the academic background to manage the transition into full time research.

As with many vocations, nursing requires continuous professional development. So, in developing my clinical skills I have undertaken a number of master’s level modules; in physical assessment, non-medical prescribing, and the management of specific diseases. I’d also already performed a qualitative study as part of my master’s degree which I really enjoyed; fuelling my desire to study for a longer period of time.

Finding a PhD:  The first step was to find a PhD that would interest me and utilise my previous nursing experience.
I applied to an advert for a PhD at The University of Sheffield, funded by Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care Yorkshire and Humber (NIHR CLAHRC YH) in a department that I was keen to study in.

The project had a strong focus on health, and offered excellent support for PhD students. I was overjoyed to be offered the scholarship.

Getting started:  After 1 year of PhD study I am thoroughly enjoying the experience. I’ve accessed relevant University research modules, received excellent support from my supervisors, and made some great friends.
The first year has been focused on planning my qualitative study; using ethnographic methods to explore how decisions are made by Advanced Nurse Practitioners.

I have also continued working clinically through an agency. My background in nursing has been invaluable in planning the study, communicating with clinicians, and understanding the literature.

So far, this has been a wise decision!

Acknowledgements: My PhD is funded by the Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care Yorkshire and Humber (NIHR CLAHRC YH). The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the University of Sheffield.