Rona Inniss, one of our Clinical Nurse Specialists working in neurology, has been awarded the prestigious Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship (PCAF) from the National Institute of Health & Care Research (NIHR). This highly competitive prize awarded to Rona follows the completion of her recent nursing research internship, which developed a study proposal addressing links between hospital environments and the impact they have on patient outcomes and staff well-being.

The PCAF is part of the NIHR’s clinical academic pathway that supports researchers in healthcare to develop clinical academic careers. The PCAF provides a salary, supervision and research skills training, allowing time and support to develop a competitive application for an NIHR doctoral fellowship. For Rona, her PCAF will focus on establishing the best methodologies for co-design of healthcare environments.

The importance of well-designed healthcare environments is recognised as playing a key part in patient outcomes and experience. Additionally, in 2004, a report by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) found workplace design had been inadequately researched and showed stressful working environments to be one of the most significant causes of staff turnover.

Prior to qualifying as a nurse Rona studied architecture and worked as an architectural assistant. This expertise has proven to be the driving force behind Rona’s ambition to make hospital environments the best they can be for everyone (whilst also addressing issues such as efficiency and sustainability).

Sharing her thoughts about being awarded the fellowship, Rona said: “Taking part in the Sir Geoffrey Bateman & Nightingale Fellowship Award Research Internship gave me the chance to write an application for the PCAF and for the HEE Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) Pre-doctoral scheme (PCAF). All of these opportunities are amazing, I have met so many other aspiring researchers and I can’t wait to start the PCAF and start improving hospital environments!“

Commenting on Rona’s fellowship award, Professor Suzanne Bench, Director of Nursing: Nurse and Midwife Led Research and Academic Leadership at Guy’s and St Thomas’ said:

“We are delighted for Rona and for the wider organisation. Supporting our nurses and midwives to develop clinical academic careers is an important strategic priority aimed at improving future patient health outcomes, and facilitating staff recruitment and retention. NIHR fellowships are highly competitive but Rona’s success shows what can be achieved by working collaboratively to support our talented clinical nurses and midwives to engage in clinical research.

One of the biggest barriers for nurses and midwives to undertake research is having dedicated and protected time and support to do so. The Trust along with the NIHR are committed to nurturing the best talent of upcoming researchers, so to be given this award is a real reflection and testament to the quality of Rona’s work.

Congratulations Rona!