Catherine Gooday, Principal Podiatrist

NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellow

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Trust & University of East Anglia

How would you describe your current role as clinical academic?

I divide my time between my fellowship and my principal podiatrist role for the diabetic foot clinic. I am completing my PhD part-time over five years and only have 18 months to go. The time has flown by and its hard to remember a time before the fellowship. It can be difficult sometimes managing conflicting priorities, but I would do it all again.

I spent the first year doing a lot of training in preparation for my research. Since then and with the support of my supervisory team and clinical trials unit I have been developing and undertaking a multi-site clinical feasibility trial. I could never have imagined being able to take the lead on this prior to the fellowship. It’s exciting, daunting, and busy but also rewarding.

What I have found so inspiring is how keen patients are to take part in trials and contribute to improving future treatment for others.

How did you get here?

I qualified as a podiatrist in 1996 and subsequently completed my Postgraduate Diploma. In 2002 I was appointed to the role of principal podiatrist. I work in a large innovative diabetes team which has a strong research culture. The multidisciplinary team at the hospital have encouraged and supported my role as it has developed. Over the last 10 years I have been involved in several national and international wound healing trials.

I became involved at a national level working to improve outcomes for people with diabetes and foot complications. I was a member of the Guideline Development Group for diabetic foot problems: prevention and management NICE guidelines (2015), and have since continued working as Expert Adviser for the NICE Centre for Guidelines.

Undertaking research and developing evidence based guidelines highlighted to me that much of the healthcare we provide is still based on expert opinion. This fellowship is an opportunity for me to work towards improving the evidence base and ultimately improving the outcomes for people.

What difference has your research training and experience made to your career?

Since beginning the fellowship I have been invited to collaborate with colleagues in the UK, sitting on a Trial Steering Committee, and join professional organisations specialist research groups. I have been a co-applicant on a grant application submitted to NIHR. I have also been invited to collaborate on an international working group to undertake a systematic review and develop an international clinical guidelines document.

What are your top tips for anyone wanting to become a clinical academic?

  • Work with your organisation to develop your career pathway for during and after the fellowship.
  • Have confidence in your own abilities, you need to be resilient things do not always go smoothly and often things are outside of your control.
  • Try to make the most of all the opportunities that arise to share your own work and learn from others.
  • Think carefully about developing you immediate and wider supervisory team and support network. If you can involve your team and clinical colleagues in your research, share your knowledge and experiences with them, they will give you really valuable feedback.
  • Use your positive experiences to encourage and assist others to develop their research ideas.