Laura Houten, a Physiotherapist working in CityCare’s Community Beds Team has been awarded a place on the Pre-Doctoral Bridging Programme, initiated by Higher Education England (HEE) and the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR).  The programme, administered by the University of Nottingham, is open to all Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) and nurses to help them take the next step towards a clinical academic career.

Laura has worked at CityCare since 2014, leaving to complete her master’s degree in physiology and health, returning in 2020. Now, Laura’s one day per week out of clinical work is used to devise a PhD project proposal, complete relevant training courses, write a literature review, present work to colleagues and selected panel, and prepare an application for NIHR’s Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship; a competitive funded PhD programme allowing clinicians to continue clinical practice while undertaking a research project.  

Laura’s proposed research project aims to help identify people who are at risk of falling and facilitate falls exercise and education programmes before they have their first fall. Large numbers of adults over the age of 65 fall each year, which can result in reduced quality of life, fractures, hospitalisation and even death.

Most clinical research is conducted by medical professionals. ThePre-Doctoral Bridging Programme is one of several in the HEE and NIHR Integrated Clinical Academic Programme, which encourages nurses and AHPs to get more involved in research, while still maintaining their clinical practice.

Laura said, “Being a clinical academic is the ideal balance between clinical practice and research. Relevant, good quality, up-to-date research is vital in informing clinical practice, so the clinical academic pathway is the ideal place to learn how to conduct research that is relevant to the patients that you treat, and to relate your findings back into your practice.”

For more information on schemes on the Integrated Clinical Academic Programme, visit:

HEE-NIHR Integrated Clinical Academic Program | HEE Clinical Academic Careers | HEE ICA Program

Date published: 3 March 2022