The expectations of fellow pupils at secondary school were not particularly high. The local crab factory was the likely destination for me when I left school at 15.
My mother encouraged me to apply for a place at the nearby technical college. From there I took a nursing degree in Leeds, an MSc in nursing at Kings, and a PhD at Reading University. Whenever someone has said to me 'you can’t do that,' my reaction seems to have been 'but I can, and furthermore, I will!'.
Throughout my career I have been passionate about expanding the role of non-medical healthcare professionals: nurses, pharmacists and allied health professionals. It’s a relatively recent development that these professionals are able to prescribe medicines; the notion of a non-medical healthcare professional prescribing medicines is seen by some as somewhat controversial.
I have received over £1m of research funding from the pharmaceutical industry to guide and develop prescribing by non-medical healthcare professionals. Why did I seek funding from the pharmaceutical industry? Traditional funding routes are competitive and I actively decided to find alternative sources. The industry seemed a logical collaborator.
When applying, you need to consider the company’s point of view. What’s in it for them? Companies are generally not interested in rigorous methodology/methods or high-impact factor journals, so you have to balance an academic approach with business acumen - two things that are not always in alignment!
I am a good networker and communicator, which helps break down barriers. I have had and still hold various roles within well-respected national organisations and advisory committees, such as the Royal College of Nursing and the Nursing and Midwifery Council, which have helped to open doors.
It’s been about finding the right person, within the right company, who has been supportive of my research. It’s not always easy. Often this ‘right’ person has come to me - either following a presentation by myself or a mutual contact - and they have a genuine interest in my research.
It’s no exaggeration to say the benefits of NMP are huge. At a time when the NHS is leaking millions of pounds each day, it really should be considered across all healthcare services. To achieve that means challenging established and long held views of individual roles. Breaking down preconceived conceptions is what took a girl destined for the crab factory to being an internationally renowned professor at a Russell Group university. Dare to be different, and don’t take no for an answer!