Clare Ryan

Spinal clinical specialist, MSK

Clinical Academic

My role

I am a spinal clinical specialist in the Portsmouth Musculoskeletal (MSK) Service.

My responsibilities

The clinical part of my role includes working with patients with spinal MSK conditions who are not improving with GP care or physiotherapy. This can include advising on treatment or considering other options such as investigations, injections or surgery.

I am also the clinical effectiveness lead for the MSK clinical specialist team. This involves supporting staff to undertake clinical audit and service evaluation work. This work is important as it helps us to understand what standard we are achieving, whether our practice is consistent with local and national guidelines and to drive improvement.

Finally, I co-lead a quality improvement project. This has involved finding and implementing the use of a patient reported outcome measure into routine clinical practice across the MSK service. It has been undertaken as part of the Trust’s Quality Improvement Programme.

My background

After 6 years in post as a clinical specialist I decided that I wanted to do more to improve patient care at a service level through supporting the service to translate knowledge into practice, evaluating care and answering important clinical questions through research.  Between 2014-2016 I completed a Masers in Clinical and Health Research (MRes) at the University of Southampton, funded by the National Institute of Health Research. This secondment provided the opportunity to develop knowledge, skills and experience in undertaking research, whilst also continuing a part-time role in practice.  For the dissertation I completed research exploring how patients experience undergoing investigations for sciatica. This was in response to an issue we had in practice where differences of opinion could occur, between patient and clinician, about how important investigations such as MRI were in managing sciatica. This work highlighted a number of ways in which we could improve and resulted in further local audit and service evaluation. The findings are now being used to improve patients’ access to timely care throughout their journey with Solent and our partner organisations. I presented this work at the Society for Back Pain Research Scientific Meeting in November 2017 and was delighted to win the ‘New Investigators award’.

Following completing the MRes I gained a Transition Award from Health Education England (Wessex), which provided the time and funding to share my research findings; complete further research training; and to scope my next research question. I have also had the opportunity to speak as an advocate for clinical academic careers and clinical research at local and national events.

Why I love my job

The three things I love most about my job are:

  • That I can combine my clinical role seeing patients with work to improve patient care
  • Working with a caring and dedicated musculoskeletal team
  • Being stretched by the Trust’s aspiration and drive to improve, with patient and the public involvement being central to this.

More about me
Outside of work I enjoy spending time with family and friends, running, cycling and working up plans for the next stage in my research.

Current projects/research studies
I am now keen to undertake the next step in my clinical academic journey and complete a PhD fellowship.

Published work: Investigations for radiculopathy: The patient perspective. A qualitative, interpretative inquiry. Musculoskeletal Science and Practice 2018 (33):71-76