Cancer and end-of-life care research to receive boost from new Manchester Metropolitan University Professional Doctorate

Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) has successfully launched a new part-time programme for experienced health and social care professionals to develop research skills without needing to step out of practice.

The first participants on the Professional Doctorate, which started on 14 January, will spend two years being taught by MMU staff through a combination of face-to-face and online learning before taking on a three-year research project relevant to their professional practice.

Completion of the programme will lead to a Professional Doctorate with an award in one of a number of specialisms – health, nursing, community health, physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, counselling, social care, biomedical science, dental technology and clinical physiology.

Programme leader Dr Carol Taylor said the course was an important development for the sector. “There are very few doctorate programmes available for health professionals and the attraction of a Professional Doctorate, as opposed to a PhD, is that participants don’t have to give up their careers to study,” Dr Taylor explained. “The time will come in the allied health professions, in particular, where doctoral qualifications will be used for applications to consultancy positions. Therefore this programme can support personal and professional development.”

One of the first professionals to sign up to the programme is Nick Telford, Head of the Genetics Laboratory at the Christie Hospital in Manchester, one of the leading cancer treatment centres in Europe. “I graduated from university and although I have worked in laboratory medicine in five different hospitals I have no formal track record in research,” Mr Telford said. “Genetics is a rapidly developing field, and the laboratory will benefit from new research programmes to advance our service. This course will help us expand into different areas and, hopefully, directly improve our ability to diagnose and classify cancer and recommend treatment.”

Fellow course member Jane Howarth, who has over 30 years experience in nursing, midwifery and health visiting, has signed up to the Professional Doctorate to develop her practice in end-of-life care for people with dementia. “This programme is ideal because I can fit my study around my working hours, which can be long and varied,” she said. “I am particularly passionate about end-of-life care and, by critically analysing existing service and policy, I hope to make some recommendations around the quality of care people get.”

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