Dr Louise Strickland is a clinical academic nurse researcher at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and at the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences (NDORMS), University of Oxford. She is the first nurse to hold this exciting post in Oxford.
Louise is used to being a trailblazer, having been the first nurse to complete a DPhil in the Medical Sciences Division at the University of Oxford: “When you’re the first, you don’t want to weld the door behind you – you want to keep it open for others.” And that is what she has done.
Now, with BRC support, she is applying to be the first nurse at OUH to be awarded a postdoctoral research fellowship.
“Being in a combined clinical academic role means that I can see directly what affects our patients, identify challenges or gaps in the treatment pathway and put into practice research with the patient at the centre,” Louise explains.
Louise uses her DPhil research project as an example. “We didn’t have objective ways to measure and assess recovery after hip and knee replacement in the first six weeks. As part of my DPhil work, we developed outcome measures so that we could measure and track early recovery postoperatively. These measures are now being used internationally to see how we can improve or adjust the patient pathway, so that we can work toward even better outcomes and fewer patients experiencing chronic pain,” she says.
Louise has always been interested in research and came to Oxford in 2011, where she was “exposed to the real possibilities of research”.
She undertook a six-month research internship, the Oxford Musculoskeletal Internship (OxMInt) programme, which had been developed for nurses and AHPs at the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences (NDORMS) with Oxford BRC support.
“I absolutely loved it. I worked on surgical skills training, which was directly relevant to my clinical area. And then I said: ‘What can I do next? How can I stay involved?’” Having already completed her Master’s, Louise applied and was accepted to study for a DPhil, receiving a competitive departmental bursary for her study.
Louise is very complimentary about the support she has received from the BRC, including a wide range of training and financial support, as well as help with writing up papers and attending conferences. Now it is supporting her in her application for a postdoctoral fellowship.
“Professor Helen Walthall, Director of Nursing and Midwifery Research and Innovation, has been great in terms of giving me advice regarding who to speak to, which courses to take, how to approach things as an emerging, early career researcher. The BRC have helped me in so many ways, formally and informally. With their guidance, I’ve been able to access the NIHR mentorship academy and training opportunities,” she explains.
Now Louise continues to give back; she acts as a mentor on her doctoral nursing studies group and the BRC writing retreats for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals, which gives them the space to complete their research work. She says it is “terrific to be able to support other upcoming researchers – I advise them all to come to the BRC for guidance and opportunities”.
In the future, having completed her fellowship, Louise hopes to continue to grow her perioperative research group “so we can improve patient pathways and outcomes while helping guide people along the path”.