Tomorrow’s researchers

Nadine Foster looks at some of the opportunities that are opening up to physiotherapists who are keen to develop a career in research.

Earlier this year, the CSP hosted a workshop that focused on opportunities to gain awards from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).  Delegates heard that there was a growing number of opportunities for physiotherapists who would like to add a research component to their career pathways. 
A number of physios are NIHR advocates, including professors Anne Forster and Sally Singh, and doctors Lisa Roberts and Caroline Alexander.  They are all heavily involved in research themselves and act as ambassadors for research careers.  As part of this advocacy role, they support physiotherapists who want to apply to the NIHR and Health Education England (HEE) for funding. 
Katherine Jones, the CSP’s research adviser, co-led the event.  She and others helped delegates who were applying to these bodies for doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships.  By increasing the number of physiotherapists making high-quality applications for such research awards, we hope to ‘grow’ the next generation of prominent researchers. 
It’s not just about developing members’ careers.   If more physiotherapists are conducting and implementing research that improves the evidence base, ultimately patients and physiotherapy services will also benefit. 
Many physiotherapists who hold masters degrees go on to train at a doctoral level. In order to strengthen physiotherapy’s evidence base, we need more physiotherapists to become research leaders.  The NIHR and HEE fellowships provide great opportunities to be supported through this process. 
Aspiring researchers who attended the event at the CSP headquarters in London heard from an NIHR project manager about the types of fellowship schemes that are available, and what constitutes a strong application. 
In a question and answer session, they also had opportunities to discuss how to improve their application and plan a project.
Following this well-received workshop, the CSP and NIHR advocates are considering plans for a future workshop.
Everyone involved is looking forward to the CSP’s Physiotherapy UK 2017 event. This event, to be held at the Birmingham International Convention Centre from 10 to 11 November, will offer further opportunities to reach out to more physiotherapists who are curious about a career involving research. 
For more details see here
  • Nadine Foster is NIHR professor of musculoskeletal health in primary care, Keele University, and lead NIHR physiotherapy training advocate. 

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Nadine Foster is NIHR professor of musculoskeletal health in primary care, Keele University, and lead NIHR physiotherapy training advocate

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