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Clinical Nurse Researcher Sandra Robinson tells us more about her role in innovation, research and development and how exploring new ideas has led to her achieving her PhD

Wednesday, 04 August, 2021
Clinical Nurse Researcher Sandra Robinson tells us more about her role in innovation, research and development and how exploring new ideas has led to her achieving her PhD

I am a qualified nurse and work in the innovation, research and development department at Northumbria Healthcare. I qualified as a registered nurse in 1984 and worked mainly in orthopaedics and rheumatology. I spent a few years abroad and when I returned to the UK in 2004 I began working as a research nurse.

I worked mainly on clinical drug trials, but over the years I have specialised more and more in conducting my own research, particularly around nurse and patient education in rheumatology.  I have a particular interest in how nurses conduct their consultations with patients about drug treatments – some of these drugs can have toxic side effects that patients need to know about in order to take them safely and as prescribed.

Investigating how nurses are trained and how confident they feel conducting this role became the focus of my PhD thesis.  It was a challenging journey in many ways both personally and professionally, but I was awarded my PhD in July 2021 and have published three papers on the findings of this work, with a fourth ready to submit.  I have also had ‘top tips for nurses’ published on the Versus Arthritis website.

Conducting academic research has its own challenges not only for nurses and allied health professionals but for anyone who may have an idea they want to investigate further. Knowing who to go to for advice is a good start and the innovation, research and development department can be helpful here. Funding can also sometimes be an issue but I am always on the lookout for funding opportunities to support my role and my work. I believe that barriers can be overcome if you have the determination to achieve.

There are so many employees at Northumbria Healthcare who have great ideas for a project which could lead to service improvement and enhance the patient journey if they were explored. I would encourage anyone who has these thoughts to push their boundaries a bit further, get together with colleagues who may be interested in what you want to do and talk to your managers.

The innovation, research and development department is always here to advise and guide with project development but the person who can make something happen is you. I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone when I started my PhD, but I did it, and whilst it got tough at times, I never thought of giving up. That was the key to this achievement, and my message is, if I can do it, you can do it too!

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