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Finding flexibility in my role

Shape the future. Add research to your career.

Chinnu is a primary and community care research nurse in the Luton, Essex and Herts Valley Primary Care Research Team. In this Shape the Future case study, Chinnu shares her story of balancing working in research with raising a family.

Published: 22 November 2023

My role in research

My day-to-day responsibilities are diverse and fascinating. I'm the point of contact for 7 practices in the Luton, Essex and Herts region. I co-ordinate and manage the flow of research activities. I also have a pivotal role in consenting patients, ensuring that they understand and take part in our studies with full knowledge. Additionally, I help my team with setting up new studies and ensuring their smooth delivery.

I am truly motivated to contribute to the development of healthcare practices and shape the future of healthcare.

Fitting the role around me

This is a role I've aspired to do for 6 years. It's a dream come true. But dreams often come with challenges and my journey was no exception.

I relocated from India to England, a new nurse in a new country. In my previous role, I worked 3 days a week with night and weekend allowances, which boosted my salary. But as I transitioned to this new role, I had to work 5 days a week with no allowances, resulting in a reduction in my income.

My husband and I both work full-time and we have a lively 2-year-old at home. Balancing household chores and a 5-day workweek was a challenge. It was a struggle to find a nursery close by and I was worried about the cost, given that my pay was less than what I earned before.

It was a daunting task, but I didn't give up. I reached out to my senior manager even before my start date, and she offered me a 4-day workweek, where I would start at 7am and finish at 5pm. It was a great help. My husband also adjusted his work schedule to support me on the remaining workdays.

We also faced nursery availability issues, making school runs a daily challenge. After discussing with my senior manager, I went through the trust’s intranet to check on the flexible working policy and submitted a flexible working request. I was allowed to work from home 1 day a week. This flexibility made a significant difference in managing our work-life balance.

Advice for others

Remember it is ok to ask for help. It's crucial to be honest about your situation and seek genuine help, even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone. Things change in life and challenges may seem overwhelming at times, but don’t worry about the present. Instead, embrace change, overcome obstacles and continue to chase your dreams.

Remember the power of determination, the importance of unwavering support and the art of achieving work-life balance. My mum always says: “Where there is a will there is a way.”

Read more researcher stories and find out how you can get involved in the NIHR Shape the Future campaign.

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