Meet FNF’s latest Star Alumna, Shellie Radford, who is a Clinical Academic IBD Nurse Specialist at NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre & Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust. Shellie’s travel scholarship has taken her across Europe - and she’s got even more exciting projects in the pipeline. Plus, she’s the recipient of the ‘Student Nursing Times ’Learner of the year: Post-registration' award. Read her inspiring story here. 

"I am a gastroenterology nurse but I specialise in IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). My particular interest is Crohn's disease; that’s where my research as well as my clinical interest sits. My background was as a senior research nurse at the biomedical research centre in Nottingham. 

IBD Nurse Shellie Radford
Shellie Radford
Clinical Academic IBD Nurse Specialist

Improving patients’ lives
There’s a lot of money in clinical trials, medicinal development work and inventing all of these new treatments, but what actually makes the difference is improving the lives of people living with these conditions. When you take the time to properly understand the impact that these conditions have on patients’ daily lives, you’re starting to get to the crux of what would really help them. I work equally between clinical work and research work and listening to patients in clinic helps me understand what is important in my research.

I’m quite active on Twitter, so I’d seen the Florence Nightingale Foundation scholarship on Twitter and I thought, you know what, one day I’m going to apply. And it just came at the right time when I was in the first year of my PhD. It was the perfect opportunity to highlight nursing research and highlight the Florence Nightingale Foundation, but also make myself into the researcher I really want to be.

Sharing knowledge globally 
I’ve just got back from Vienna for the European Congress of Crohn’s and Colitis. Next I’m going to Milan and then I’m flying back to Vienna. I’m teaching European nurses what IBD nurses do in the UK and they’re teaching me how ultrasound is used in IBD care. It’s so important to be sharing that knowledge, it helps us all grow. And improve. In the UK we are blessed with the NHS – every other health system is so different and there isn’t such a thing as an IBD nurse in Europe. Learning the differences has really highlighted what we’re really good at in the UK as well as what we need to work on.

Through the Florence Nightingale Foundation supporting me, we’re really highlighting what nurses can do as researchers in their own right. Because we’re not the backup dancers, we’re doing research well, and leading it. We’re really going to prove what can happen when nurses are researchers; we can do exactly the same as doctors have been doing for years.

Paying it forward
I’m really lucky because another FNF scholar is at Derby, which is literally just down the road. We’ve got a WhatsApp group and we’re very supportive of each other. By going through one door, it’s opened all of these avenues. I really hope that in the future I’ll be able to be more involved and be that mentor and that person who could deliver the courses and the leadership for others.

I really want to pay it forward. I’m succession planning because I don’t want to be where I am now forever. I want to progress and a lot of the time the only way you can progress is if you’re training people to come up after you. So having that ability to direct people to apply for the FNF leadership programmes or the travel scholarship, it really opens them up to start thinking bigger about the nursing role and what else we could do. I’ve always advocated having that three or five or 10-year plan for your career because it’s almost like building blocks. That’s what I think FNF offers. It really does give you the blocks to build up to the next thing.”