The people, the mission and the opportunities: Reflecting on my journey as co-lead for the CAHPR NE hub.

Last year we have seen new hubs start up, new facilitators joining and we’ve also had to say goodbye to some really valued members of the CAHPR hubs teams.  

Sam Harrison talks to us about her time as a CAHPR hub co-lead. She stepped aside in the autumn of2023 for others to take up the role. Read about why a role which she thought was for three years kept her enthusiastically in post for eight years!  

Professor Sam Harrison

I am a Professor in Respiratory Rehabilitation in the School of Health and Life Sciences at Teesside University. I am a physiotherapist by background with clinical experience delivering Pulmonary Rehabilitation. I am proud to hold a prestigious NIHR advanced fellowship which I commenced in 2021. I was also aco-lead for the Council for Applied Health Professions Research network (CAHPR) North-East (NE) hub, a role which I left in autumn 2023, after being in post for eight years and supporting its overarching mission to growAHP researchawareness and capacity.

Following completion of my PhD I undertook my international post-doctoral training in Toronto, Canada within a world-leading centre for Respiratory Rehabilitation Research. In 2015, I swapped the peameal bacon sandwich for a Teesside parmo, returning to the UK to embark on my first academic appointment. I confess I felt a little like a fish out of water, but I still ducked and dived to avoid taking on leadership roles that would detract from my ability to produce “real academic currency” aka outputs and grant income. This was very naive of me and I quickly learnt that being a successful academic requires you to wear many hats and my leadership hat was barely a fascinator!   

I was encouraged to apply for the position as co-lead for the CAHPR NE hub by the outgoing co-lead and I was emboldened to take on my first significant leadership role because as a co-lead I would have a mentor in situate, Prof Cormac Ryan. I firmly believe you should aim to work alongside the type of leaders you aspire to be. Working alongside Cormac meant working alongside someone kind, collaborative, pragmatic, who has integrity and is undaunted in the face of setbacks. We have continued the co-leadership model within the NE huband I hope I was able to offer support to incoming co-leads and facilitators in a similar way

Undertaking my first academic position in an institution where I hadnot worked previously and did not have a track record in respiratory research meant I had to build up my networks. My role as co-lead for the CAHPRNE hubfacilitatedmy ability to do this. It got me a seat at the table alongside people leading nursing, midwifery and AHP (NMAHP) research across the region and beyond, giving me an insight into futureplansand strategic objectives. Last year I presented CAHPR’s objectives and the NE hubs activities and ambitions alongside Dr Jenni Naisby (co-lead CAHPR NE hub) at the NENC NMAHP webinar serieswhich was attended by approximately 80 delegates 

As I have progressed my academic career I have felt less and less like a “real physio” but for the past eight years my work with CAHPR has been one of my windows into the NHS. For a number of years we have hosted a small grants scheme and one of my proudest contributions to CAHPR’s overarching mission is supporting 41clinicians to date to conduct a small piece of research that has a meaningfulclinical impact. This scheme has presented me with the opportunity to work with clinicians within respiratory rehabilitation, building my skills and portfolio as a mentor and supervisor.It has also allowed me to work with AHPs outside of my discipline promoting a multi-disciplinary approach to complex health issues. Presentations from small grant awardees at our online and in-person events has broadened my view of AHP research, increased my understanding of the real-life issues being faced across different disciplines and the approaches being taken to overcome these. 

When I successfully applied to be the co-lead of the CAHPR NE hub I thought it was a role I would fulfill for three years. So why eight years later am I only just stepping down? Three reasons 1. The people, 2. The mission 3. The opportunities. I have made friends and met interesting and inspiring AHP colleagues. I am passionate about building AHP research capabilityand capacity, especially within the NE, an area which in the past has been under-represented in terms of research funding for health and yet is one of the regions with the highest prevalence of chronic conditions in the UK. Finally, as I have developed my own academiccareer, I have been able to bring something different to the role, for example contributing to strategic decision making at a regional level and leveraging funding through negotiations with other partners. 

But…it was time to hand over the reins allowing someone else the opportunity to undertake this exciting and rewarding leadership role. Someone who is able to take the hub in new directions, potentially improving online presence.Someone who is in tune with the current issues faced by those working within the NHS during challenging times and can help support aspiring clinical academics to navigate any difficulties. I have every confidence that the CAHPR NE hub will continue to develop and thrive under the leadership of Drs Jenni Naisby, JajMankelow and Andy Graham and I look forward to continuing to support CAHPR as a member of the CAHPR Research Leadersin years to come 

Number of subscribers: 2

Log in to comment and read comments that have been added