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Meet Laura: “It’s great being at the cutting edge of new things, treatments, better healthcare”

Laura standing in front of w window with a green space in the background
27 March 2023

Meet Laura! 

Laura joined the Sheffield Children’s team in February 2021 as a Clinical Research Officer having previously been an Orthotist for 13 years in Newcastle and South Yorkshire. She said: “I completed a degree in Prosthetics and Orthotics, but my main focus was on orthotics, the design and fitting of braces and splints. The aim is to give back the power of movement to our patients whose body parts have been weakened by injury, disease, or disorders of the nerves, muscles, or bones.  

“I really enjoyed my job, but I found that there wasn’t that much research in the area of orthotics. I’ve always been quite interested in finding ways to improve things, so I decided to do a Masters which focused on health and social care in order to learn the proper processes and do research well. The course enhanced my interest in research processes and so I decided after 13 years to find a new challenge and that’s how I ended up in the Research team at Sheffield Children’s.”  

Day to day you will find Laura working on two studies in completely different and fascinating areas; one is research into a drug and its role in the treatment of very severe eczema in children and the second is a study looking at a drug used in preventing worsening of myopia, or short-sightedness in children. She might be liaising with sponsors, hospitals, and university teams to ensure the smooth running of the studies or helping to recruit and support families through their research journeys.  

“I love research at Sheffield Children’s, it’s really diverse and interesting and it’s great being at the cutting edge of new things, treatments, better healthcare,” Laura added. “It is hugely rewarding to support families on their research journeys and to contribute in some small way to the advancement of clinical care. I’m seeing lives change, how can you not be passionate about that. The team are also great, they’re really welcoming and super helpful as well as being really passionate about what they/we all do.”  

Alongside Laura’s Research Officer role, she is also a Learning Disabilities and Autism Ambassador. Laura has two sons who are autistic and is very passionate about ensuring healthcare, and in particular, research is accessible for those who are neurodiverse. She said: “I look into adaptations and reasonable adjustments, as well as creating sensory experiences for our patients to make appointments easier. I’m always exploring how to best care for neurodiverse patients as we don’t want there to be any barriers to the children and young people accessing their healthcare and taking part in research.  

“Some of the things we’ve put in place so far involve having a huge box of sensory toys available. We’re also in the process of creating a sensory room on the Clinical Research Facility floor which will be a versatile space and can be adapted for each child’s needs. We’ve created a research passport for families, which allows us to have an insight into the potential challenges for each child and we can then tune in to their interests to help make it a positive experience. And finally, we’re currently producing easy-read documents which children can read prior to their visit, which we know can really help ease anxiety about attending.”  

When Laura isn’t working, you might find her climbing or playing the viola but her favourite thing to do is wild swimming. She said: “I’ve shared some wonderful experiences out in our beautiful nature with some dear friends. Wild swimming is true escapism for me!”  

Thanks for sharing your story, Laura! Later in the week you’ll have a chance to meet Laura’s two sons as we continue to explore Autism Acceptance Week.

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