Nicki Phillips, Vice Dean of the School of Healthcare Studies at Cardiff University and Director of the Postgraduate Department in that School, has worked for the University for ten years.
I first came to work in Cardiff University in 1998 after some 15 years as a physiotherapy clinician. Following the usual rotational posts, I specialised in sport and most of my clinical years were spent working in sport or rehabilitation for sport. That included working in rugby, where I spent many a rainy Saturday afternoon on the side of a pitch. I was also lucky enough to work my way through the ranks and travelled with teams to Commonwealth and Olympic Games every few years. I have clocked up a frightening number of these events now, with six Commonwealth Games tours and five Olympic Games tours. Considering that they are all four years apart, the last 20-plus years have been pretty busy.
By the late 90ís I was looking for another challenge in my career, having completed a MSc as a clinician. I had visited the Physiotherapy Department every year for some time to teach the sports physiotherapy content of the undergraduate physiotherapy programme. I finally was persuaded to join the department (or join the dark side, ie academia, as some clinical colleagues would describe it) on a full time basis with the aim of starting up a postgraduate MSc in Sports Physiotherapy for physiotherapists wishing to specialise in this area. Another motivating factor at the time was to try to answer some of the clinical questions I had around functional sports rehabilitation through research. I later registered on a part time PhD and graduated in 2005.
I now divide my academic time between heading the taught postgraduate department, teaching the MSc Sports Physiotherapy and continuing research in motor control following sports injury. I am also contracted out of Cardiff University for one day a week by the Sports Council for Wales as part of an initiative to develop physiotherapy support for High Performance athletes in Wales over the next three years.
Working at Cardiff University has allowed me the flexibility to combine my research and teaching interests, whilst maintaining my passion for my clinical work in sport. I think of myself as very fortunate in that, at least most of the time, I get to work doing the things I really enjoy. The fact that my role is divided into a few different areas keeps my interest and constantly challenges me. This summer I travelled to Beijing as Chief Physiotherapist to Team GB, which was a fantastic privilege to be part of such a successful Olympic team performance. I also visited India with the Welsh Commonwealth Youth team as part of preparations for the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games. Cardiff University has always been supportive of my efforts, recognising that in making links with so many outside organisations, I am promoting its innovation and engagement initiatives.
The knowledge and skills I have gained over the ten years at Cardiff has played an important part in developing my clinical role in sport at a high level. The research skills have been invaluable in planning and evaluating physiotherapy support at major games and the University has been instrumental in supporting my developing work with the Welsh Assembly Government towards building a Welsh legacy from the 2012 London Olympic Games. I am proud to be part of Cardiff University as it reaches its 125th anniversary and would like to congratulate all who have helped make its reputation both nationally and internationally.