Royal Devon and Exeter hospital
The South West Clinical School at Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust exists to promote evidence-based practice and clinically-focused non-medical research that enhances patient care.
A partnership between the Trust and the University of Plymouth, the Clinical School encourages and supports nurses, midwives, and other allied health professionals to look at their practice, challenge current thinking, try out new ideas and work out ways to measure what they're doing.
Our objectives are to:
  • increase research capacity, skills, and outputs within nursing, midwifery and allied health professions
  • increase evidence-based practice activity, enhancing the translation of evidence into practice
  • strengthen the position of the patient as the focal point for care – putting the patient at the heart of the Clinical School’s activity.

Clinical School Leadership Team

Clinical School Lead
Visiting Professor of Clinical Nursing
  • Helen Quinn, Research and Development Director and Clinical Director NIHR PRC Exeter
  • Professor Maggie Shepherd, Consultant Nurse
Honorary Clinical School Associates
  • Rebecca Fox, Therapy Research and Innovation Lead 
  • Mary Smith, Librarian
  • Donna Richardson, Graphic Designer
Honorary Clinical School Fellows
  • Sue Prosser, Senior Nurse, Neonatal Unit (also Chair, Clinical School Steering Group)
  • Fiona Fry, Lead Hepatology Nurse
  • Debbie Cheeseman, Consultant Nurse, Older people
  • Carole Boulanger, Advanced Critical Care Practitioner
  • Michelle Thornberry
RDUHT Clinical School activities
The Clinical School supports and conducts a wide range of activities that include:
  • supporting applications for pre-doctoral, doctoral and post-doctoral NIHR awards to enable research training
  • developing research active interest groups and accredited clinical academic wards and departments
  • developing and delivering researcher development programmes and seminars with clinicians to support evidence-based-practice
  • Chief Nurse Research Fellowship Programme
  • writing workshops: for publication, conference, posters.
Chief Nurse Research Fellows
1. Who is this aimed at?
It is aimed at all bands of registered staff, though we are particularly encouraging bands 5 and 6 to help you embed skills you gained during your undergraduate degree into your clinical role. 
2. Is this an accredited university course?
No; it is devised and delivered by staff from the Research and Development team and the Clinical School, in association with colleagues from across the South West Clinical Schools, the Universities of Plymouth and Bournemouth.
3. I'm intrigued and want more information.

Current Chief Nurse Research Fellows

Ruth Siewruk 
Ruth is an Neurological Occupational Therapist who works part time for Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Trust within outpatients and part time for a private Neurological service, Nortle. Her specialist interests are Functional Neurological Disorders (FND), Stroke rehabilitation, cognition and vocational rehabilitation. She is part of the Southwest Peninsula network for vocational rehabilitation, FND and Stroke upper limb rehab. She joined the fellowship to increase her knowledge and skills of research and how to incorporate this into clinical practice. She hopes to evaluate how education about the condition FND is delivered to patients to North Devon and if this is effective.
Louise Pritchard
For the past ten years, Louise has worked in Devon Sexual Health as a Nurse Advisor. Throughout her nursing career, Louise has worked in various specialties, including spinal injuries, practice nursing and casualty. Competing an Open University degree sparked Louise's interest in research, the methodology, and how to conduct good research. Louise has an interest in infectious diseases, transmission, prevention, the effect on the individual and wider public health implications. With the current regional increase in gonorrhoea, her project sets out to investigate if there are ways to improve detection (and subsequent treatment) in heterosexual people who require asymptomatic screening. 
Grace Faronbi
Grace is an internationally trained nurse who developed a keen interest in research throughout her clinical practice and academic pursuit. She has been awarded a Chief Nurse Research Fellow, which provides her with a day-in-a-week fortnight training for a year to gain further research experience. Grace works with the Clinical Research Team at the Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. She is passionate about the care of older adults and CVD prevention. She will be assessing what the government is doing through policy, media, patient-public partnership involvement and advocate for international collaboration in the care of older adults.
Lisa Roberts
Lisa is a speech and language therapist working in the Community Team in Exeter. Lisa has always been interested in research and so, she is excited to have the chance to pursue this alongside her clinical work. Lisa has a particular interest in Functional Neurological Disorder and has many ideas about potential research projects in this area.  
She hopes this fellowship will give her the opportunity to take some first steps in exploring this and consider whether it’s something she'd like to do more of in the future.
Kate Preston
Kate works as a musculoskeletal physiotherapist and has worked for the RD and E for the past 11 years. She now works in a portfolio role which encompasses hip and knee orthopaedic interface work and first contact physiotherapy within Primary care. Kate was originally attracted to the chief nurse research fellow post as it presented a fantastic opportunity to learn more about clinical research, how she could incorporate this into her role and get involved in conducting her own quality improvement project. Kate has a passion for health promotion and preventative medicine and is keen to explore the links between osteoarthritis and metabolic disease, highlighting those most at risk and developing a best practice guideline. 
Rob Heagerty
A musculoskeletal physiotherapist since 2001 with a background in sports science, exercise physiology and exercise Health and wellbeing, Rob has enjoyed participating in a broad and varied scope of research domains. Since 1994 areas of interest have inclueded; blood lactate  accumulation in elite athletes, dynamometry for strength assessment, pathophysiology of lower limb stress fractures as well as injury prevention and human performance enhancement. Currently, working in the NHS, he is relishing the opportunity to participate on the CNRF programme and with an over arching passion for bio-psycho-socio aspects of health he is now exploring the impact of patient initiated follow up strategies in physiotherapy.
Louise Holmes 
Louise is an Advanced Practitioner Physiotherapist working on the Acute Stroke Unit in North Devon. Louise has research experience from being a treating therapist for trials in neurological conditions and from completing her MSc in Neurorehabilitation in 2021. She is looking forward to using the opportunity of the Chief Nurse Research Fellowship to have dedicated nonclinical time to work on a project directly related to her clinical practice. Louise's project for the year is looking at how we deliver the recommended therapy for upper limb impairments during the acute phase of stroke recovery in line with the new RCP guidelines. 

Professor Patricia Schofield, Professor in Clinical Nursing

“As a clinical professor, it's a great privilege to mentor nurses to develop research skills alongside their 'day job' – science is everybody's business and the joy of that first publication or conference presentation is unforgettable.”
Patricia Schofield
Advanced Clinical practitioner

South West Clinical Schools

The South West Clinical Schools are a collaboration between the University of Plymouth and the NHS, working with nurses, midwives, and allied health professionals at all stages of their clinical and academic development.
Our work with local health services has identified the urgent need to capture improvements in patient and family outcomes, as well as ensure that existing evidence is used to best develop the research led by non-medical health professionals. To meet these needs, we have invested in clinical schools, which are professorial-led centres, in five of our local NHS trusts. The main focus for the clinical schools is to encourage health professionals to look at their practice, challenge current thinking, try out new ideas and work out ways to measure what they're doing.
Find out more about the South West Clinical Schools
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