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Professor - Older People's Nursing

Career Pathway

Career Directions

  • Research & Development
  • Education

Area of Practice

  • Adult Nursing


  • Education Provider

Job/Role Summary

At a strategic level, my role centres on promoting Ulster’s reputation as a centre of excellence in research on gerontological nursing and the care of older people and their families by collaborating with national and international colleagues. I lead the 'Caring for Older People’ strand of the Person-centred Practice Research Centre.  My role involves submitting bids for external funding and managing grant income, reviewing and reporting on proposals to grant awarding bodies, disseminating research findings through peer-reviewed publications and conference papers and demonstrating research impact through case studies.  A key part of my day to day activity focuses on the supervision of post-graduate students and research contract staff, providing leadership support and mentorship to research staff and school colleagues, lecturing on pre and post-registration programmes and evaluating the impact of teaching, research and practice development initiatives.  I am a board member of a range of external bodies with a remit for improving the health and wellbeing of older people and their families and I am also a member of three editorial boards.


Specific qualifications and experience required

I am a registered Mental Health and Adult Nurse and I hold a teaching qualification.  I have a  primary degree, Masters degree and a PhD.  My clinical nursing experience is in gerontological nursing.  My introduction into the field of nurse education began when I was appointed as a Lecturer/ Practitioner.  In this post, I spent 50% of my time based in an assessment and rehabilitation ward for older people where I supported nurses and other members of the multidisciplinary team to engage in practice development initiatives.  The remainder of my week was spent as a Lecturer in Nursing where I was responsible for teaching and placement supervision on the pre-registration adult nursing programme. 


Career Milestones

After four years as a Lecturer/Practitioner, I was offered a permanent lecturing post in the School of Nursing.  I continued my studies during this time which culminated in the award of a PhD in 2006. This paved the way for my academic career and in 2009, I was appointed to the post of 'Reader'.  I was awarded a professorship in 2014.  Other significant milestones include my appointment as President of the All Ireland Gerontological Nurses’ Association in 2013 .  Prior to that I won the RCN 2007 Nurse of the Year - Nursing Research Award and was was Runner-up in the RCN Research Society Justus Akinsanya Award 2008 for Innovation in Doctoral Studies in Nursing in the UK.


What attracted you to this job?

The main attraction of my current role is the diversity associated with it.  Every day brings new opportunities and also new challenges.  When I was leaving school, I considered  a career in teaching, nursing and publishing.   In many ways, I feel that my current role is a mix of all three and this makes it very satisfying. 


Enjoyable aspects of the job/role

From a teaching perspective, I enjoy working with students and seeing them progress both academically and professionally over the three year duration of their programme of study.   I enjoy all aspects of the research process and I especially enjoy working with older people and their families.  


Challenging aspects of the job/role

There is a large amount of administration associated with my role.  Not all papers get published and not all proposals get funded and this is disappointing but as all academics experience these challenges, my colleagues are very supportive.   


Important success factors

Enthusiasm, commitment, hard work and determination are all important success factors.  The ability to work well with people and to bring out the best in a team is crucial for this role. 


Advice for those considering the type of job/role?

I would recommend an academic career but would advise those interested in this role to secure good mentorship as I benefited greatly from experienced colleagues who willingly shared their knowledge and skills and provided me with support and guidance when needed.    


Key skills that can be gained within this job/role?

Time management

Facilitation and presentation skills

Other skills related to the post such as using innovative approaches to teaching, grant writing, project management and writing for publication. 


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