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Reader (Senior Lecturer in Research)

Career Pathway

Career Directions

  • Research & Development
  • Education

Area of Practice

  • Learning Disability Nursing


  • Education Provider

Job/Role Summary

As a Reader (Senior Lecturer in Research), I undertake teaching and research activities within the School of Nursing. I teach on the post-graduate intellectual disability specialist practice nursing course and on the post-graduate research modules. I am the module leader for the MSc Research Nursing dissertations. I am also responsible for the pre-registration student nurses preparation on their intellectual disability clinical placements. I supervise MSc and PhD students who undertake research in the health of children and adults with intellectual disabilities. I lead the Centre for Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities and the Autism Research Hub at the university.

 A large proportion of my time is spent undertaking research. My specific research interests focus on the physical and mental health of people with intellectual disabilities, health inequalities/ inequities, diabetes, cancer, health promotion, early interventions, ageing, and service/education development and evaluation. I have published over 70 high impact quality research publications, over 40 peer reviewed abstracts, co-authored one international textbook, fourteen book chapters, ten reports and several policy briefings, and presented at over 70 refereed national/international conferences: which have impacted upon regional, national and international policy.


Specific qualifications and experience required

I qualified as a Registered Nurse for People with Intellectual Disabilities in 1991 (RNLD), and worked in the community as a Staff Nurse with adults with intellectual disabilities before successfully completing a BSc (Hons) in Applied Psychology ( upper 2:1) in 1999 at Ulster University. I commenced a fulltime PhD for 3 years in intellectual disabilities and mental health in 1999 again at Ulster University; and completed this in 2003. I was successful in obtaining a Lecturer’s position in the school of nursing, Ulster University in Sept 2002. I completed a Post-Graduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCHE) in 2006. I was successful in securing promotion to Reader (Research & Development) within the School of Nursing in October 2013.


Career Milestones

Successfully obtaining a PhD. Obtaining a Lecturer’s post and more recently, a readers post. Establishing a national and international reputation for my research as evidenced by the following esteemed positions:

  • Being Director of a local intellectual disability charity for nine years ( 2008-2016) and currently acting as a Trustee for another charity in N Ireland (2015-present)

  • President of the Royal Society of Medicine Intellectual Disability Forum, London (2013-2016)

  • Member of the Learning Disability Forum of the Royal College of Nursing, London (2015-2017)

  • Advisor for the Learning Disability Transforming Care Programme, NHS England on diabetes and people with intellectual disabilities (2017)

  • Expert Adviser for the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) on the Care of Older People with Learning Disabilities (2015-2018)

  • Chair, Health Group, International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities ( IASSIDD) (2013-present)

  • Liaison Officer for IASSIDD to the World Health Organization (2016- present)


Enjoyable aspects of the job/role

I enjoy teaching on the intellectual disability nursing modules and meeting many of the newly qualified, and sometimes more mature, nurses sharing our knowledge and experience together. I also enjoy teaching the research modules, to many people’s horror, and supervising the MSc and PhD students. I thoroughly like thinking about innovative research ideas and adopting research methodologies for this population. The job is more enjoyable when the report and research paper has been written and I can share these research findings with a wide audience, and can influence policy and clinical practice.


Advice for those considering the type of job/role?

A strong desire to like teaching and research, and the hunger to want to translate this evidence into policy and practice in order to make a real difference for people with intellectual disabilities, their families and communities. Thinking of a career within academic/ research, you will need a strategic plan to ensure you have a good degree, and a further post-graduate course such as an MSc and or a PhD. There are different routes to obtain a PhD: 1) self-funded; 2) sponsored by DfE; OR 3) a PHA RDO PhD Fellowship. The latter need careful preparation of the research project that you propose and, preparation of you as the applicant, therefore you should start an early conversation with someone at a University. This has been a significant learning and yet challenging, exciting and rewarding career choice for me.


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