Recite Me

Our Nurses. Our Future: Julia Fromings-Hill, Community Research Nurse

International Nursing Day: My story –

Julia is a Community Research Nurse and has shared her career journey. Keep reading to find out her one piece of advice she could give to someone starting their career as a nurse.

Julia Fromings-Hill

I started my nursing training 30 years ago this year, just after my 23rd birthday.  Back then I had very little idea what health research was, let alone what a career as a research nurse would be about.

When I qualified 3 years later, it was with a diploma in nursing and I decided to enrol straight away to complete my degree.  One of the modules I chose was ‘research’ – this is when I found out that it was actually quite interesting! I think the appeal for me at that stage was the way that working in health research gives nurses that great combination of being involved in cutting edge science while still working one to one with patients.  Also, I could see that providing the evidence base for clinical care is an essential part of that care. I was excited by the idea that I could play a part, even if just a small part, in helping to provide that evidence base.

My first Research role started around 20 years ago, just a few years into my nursing career. Since then, I’ve had opportunities to work across lots of different patient populations and in many different settings, from neonates to end of life care, and many other groups, settings and specialisms in between. Every research study I’ve worked on involves a new team of clinicians to work alongside, a new group of patients, often a new specialism to learn about and nearly always a new plan for how the work will be carried out.

My role brings the security of knowing that my practice is tightly regulated by not only the nursing code, but also stringent guidelines for carrying out health research which is in place to protect the safety and welfare of the patients. Along side this though, is also a huge amount of flexibility and opportunities for me to figure out my own way of working.

A perfect work week for me would be a mix of contact with patients, discussing research opportunities with patients and families, assisting them in taking part and using my clinical knowledge and skills to carry out the research procedures involved, along with time spent with my colleagues working on projects and ideas for increasing the opportunities for everyone to take part in health research.  Most weeks that’s exactly what I get to do!

One thing that is very important to me personally is to find a way to combine my work with caring for my son who has a very rare genetic condition causing learning an physical disabilities and needs a high level of care. Most of the Research Nursing roles I’ve had have made this possible in a way that would have been very difficult to achieve in other roles. I feel lucky that I found this career path before I even knew that particular challenge was coming my way!  The theme of International Nurses Day this year is “Our Nurses. Our Future. The Economic Power of Care”.  Hopefully I’ve found the home/life balance that I need to continue having positive rather than negative economic impact for as long as possible.

One piece of advice I would give to someone starting their career as a nurse would be exactly what other people told me 30 years ago- try to get a range of experience across several different settings if you possibly can from the beginning. Nursing is such a diverse job so that’s the best way to find out what you like and what you are good at.  I’d also say consider becoming a Research Nurse if you want a career that combines an enquiring mind with direct patient contact and the opportunity to do a bit of everything along the way.