Adam Galloway is a Senior Children’s Physiotherapist and HEE/NIHR Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellow (PCAF) based at Leeds Children’s Hospital and has worked in physiotherapy for the last six years. This is Adam’s story of how he has increased his time working clinically in response to COVID-19 whilst still managing to submit an application for his next career development award with the NIHR Academy. His blog is part of the COVID-19 Research Voices series.
Increasing my clinical time
As a clinical academic, half of my time is usually spent working clinically and the other half on research. In March, as the impact of the pandemic on the UK and demand on the NHS, continued to increase, I knew it was only a matter of time before I would be increasing my clinical work.
I’ve seen my clinical time increase by over 50%, and as I am currently working with the respiratory team caring for children with cystic fibrosis and other chronic lung conditions, the way we work has had to change. Continuing to meet our patients' needs has been the top priority and because a number of our patients are shielding, we have introduced virtual consultations.
My experiences throughout this time have varied. It has brought a real sense of camaraderie in the team, but there is no denying the immense pressure that the NHS and other health services have been under and there have been many challenges to overcome.
Lots of support
My supervisory team have been exceptionally supportive (as they have been throughout my PCAF). I’ve had more contact with them both as a general check-in to see how I’m doing as well as monitoring the progress of my award.
The NIHR has also been very supportive. Right from the very start it was made clear that any clinical academic will be supported in returning to clinical practice. This was a weight off my shoulders as I knew I had the backing of the NIHR to support health services and my ongoing research work wouldn’t be adversely affected.
I’ve had some great support from my host organisation and line manager too. From the start I made it clear that I was prepared to increase my clinical work whenever needed, to help ensure patients were getting the care they needed. My line manager did hold off asking me for as long as she could but I was more than happy to do so.
The impact on my research and career development
Increasing my clinical time has obviously meant that parts of my fellowship have been put on hold, and unfortunately some planned training has had to be cancelled. It has at times been a challenge, to manage my expectations of my research and to not meet the targets I had originally set out, whilst having to adapt to various changes in both a professional and personal capacity.
As I’m nearing the end of my PCAF, I was also in the process of completing my application for a HEE/NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship. There were some inevitable delays, for example how long it took for documents to be checked, and the time I had allocated to work on the application was limited too. The deadlines for applications were extended by NIHR, which was a big help and I’ve also been working on this in my own time, which at times has been a pleasant distraction from what has been going on.
The whole situation has been something I’m sure, like many other clinical academics, I won’t forget and it will give me lots of experiences to reflect and learn from as I continue progressing as a clinical academic.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the NIHR, NHS or the Department of Health and Social Care.