Professor of occupational therapy Professor of occupational therapy

I have worked at the UEA for almost 25 years (anniversary in Jan 2020), always as 1.0 FTE. I came to the UEA after nine years working in the NHS, specialising in orthopaedics and palliative care. I was appointed as a Lecturer in Occupational Therapy (OT) and gained promotion to Senior Lecturer in 2004 and to Professor of Occupational Therapy in 2013. During that time, I have had a significant amount of leadership roles including Admissions Officer, Course Director for BSc OT, Course Director for MSc OT which included setting this up as a new programme, School Teaching Director, Faculty Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning, Deputy Head of School and now I am Professional Lead for Occupational Therapy. During my time at UEA I have also taken opportunities to work across the university, such as being a member of Senate and sitting on and chairing various committees. I am also employed at the James Paget University Hospital as a Non-Executive Director, having just started my second three-year term of office.  

The school funded my MA in the School of Education and my EdD. I had study leave for one term in 2002 so that I could complete my thesis for my Educational Doctorate (EdD). Alongside these the school has supported me to attend various conferences to present my research. They have also allowed me to complete various other external roles such as Reviewer for the Quality Assurance Agency, External Examiner positions (eight different HEIs to date), be an Accreditor for the Royal College of Occupational Therapists and a Visitor for the Health and Care Professions Council. I am also invited to undertake various other roles for universities, such as consultancy work in the setting up of new OT provision and supporting the development of their new curricula. All this has given me an important external perspective which has supported me in my various internal roles. Many of my applications for internal roles at UEA were due to being encouraged to apply from various senior colleagues. They had confidence in my when I did not. 

As a result of my research for my MA and EdD I was able to write many papers and present my work at various conferences, both national and international. This, my significant leadership roles in the school, my teaching and related activity, my successful application for Senior Fellow with the Higher Education Academy very early in its inception, my UEA Teaching Excellence Award and my work with professional and regulatory bodies and other universities has, I believe, led to my promotions success.  

My work life balance has been at times very difficult to manage and not necessarily healthy. I am very organised, but even with that skill the workload has been excessive. The balance is better now. Promotion criteria are challenging, and I don’t know that I could have achieved it without the additional hours I put into my work. On reflection, I am content that the extra work I put in enabled me to succeed, but it was not necessarily right. 

My role as Professional Lead for Occupational Therapy is a new one, which I am delighted to have. In this, my ambition is to create a positive experience for our students; ensure UEA is recognised nationally and internationally for excellence in educational provision; support my colleagues to succeed in their roles and ambitions; enable the team to meet the challenges that are present in academia; and support each member of staff to achieve personal success.

Read more about Nicola's career and research.