Anna Southworth - ICA Internship

I am one of two Specialist Research and Innovation Radiographers in the radiotherapy department at Leeds Cancer Centre. The majority of the research I have been involved in has centred on breast radiotherapy and my aim is to improve the patient experience during radiotherapy.

I started my involvement in research with a small student CoRIPS funded project that allowed me to carry out a 6 week research project, the TACT study, I then went onto present this work at the Annual Radiotherapy Conference 2018.

When I began working clinically I knew I wanted to continue my research career alongside my clinical practice. I initially became involved in audit work in my clinical department, again, I kept to the topic area I was most familiar with and audited the skin reactions patients displayed during breast radiotherapy.

This audit was further supported by the NIHR & HEE Integrated Clinical Academic Internship Programme. The programme is aimed at individuals wanting to develop a clinical academic career. It provides nine months of academic support and funding for salary backfill and CPD and is currently facilitated by Sheffield Hallam University. The programme gave me time to develop my own research skills and therefore increase the quality of the audit work I was carrying out. I was able to utilise the time to complete a Research in Health course covering all aspects of a research project from proposal writing, data analysis and onto dissemination. I also had the opportunity to observe an ethics board which helped me better understand the importance of research ethics and the process for projects to be approved. My main achievement whilst partaking in the NIHR/HEE ICA Internship was publishing my first piece of research, the programme provided me with the time, skills and support to facilitate this.

I have since completed my MSc in Radiotherapy and Oncology, for myself, I believe this was greatly enhanced through my NIHR/HEE ICA Internship award as I developed a number of skills during the award that allowed me to be better prepared for the completion of an MSc dissertation.

I aim to continue along the NIHR ICA pathway and would like to apply for a position on the CDRF sometime in the future.