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How I overcame my fears to win recognition for nurse research

Rosalynn Austin

Rosalynn Austin

Clinical Doctoral Research Fellow and Specialist Research Nurse, Portsmouth

For the past 3 years, every year in October, I have a tradition. The call for Early Investigator Awards (EIA) comes out and with the support of my supervisors I submit an abstract. Every year the abstract gets rejected. When I saw the email this year, from the British Society for Heart Failure (BSH), I steeled myself for the traditional annual rejection. The words, “I am delighted to tell you that you have been selected to present at the meeting” jumped off my screen and I double checked to see if it was actually addressed to me. To then learn that my research was the first nurse led research to be shortlisted for this award carried with it a mixture of honour and responsibility.

Having attended this conference before I knew my biggest challenge was not the 5-minute presentation, but in explaining burden of treatment to a clinical audience, unfamiliar with this theory. I knew that this was key to them understanding the relevance of my results and increasing the possibility of impacting on their clinical care of heart failure patients. Channelling my inner Florence Nightingale, I wrote and re-wrote my presentation, practicing it multiple times to the cardiology team at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust. 

“Never lose an opportunity of urging a practical beginning, however small, for it is wonderful how often in such matters the mustard-seed germinates and roots itself.”― Florence Nightingale

Nerves before a presentation are normal for me, but on Thursday Dec 2, 2021 my pre-presentation nerves were on a new level. The knowledge that I was the first nurse to be invited to present for this award category in the BSH, had raised the stakes considerably. I wanted honour and represent so many nurse researchers who inspired and supported my journey as a Nurse Researcher.

At the coffee break following my presentation, nurses and doctors come up to me and not just comment on my presentation going well, but on how they found it interesting. Better than that they had more questions about burden of treatment and my research. This continued on social media and even now looking back on Thursday evening I can’t help but smile. I felt then that regardless of the announcement of winner announcement on Friday morning, that I had won. I had represented nurse researchers honourably, becoming a trailblazer, inspiring others and creating clinical curiosity around burden of treatment.

The announcement (, the next day, that I together with Simon Beggs (Cardiology registrar & Honorary clinical lecturer) and Amrit Lota (Cardiology Specialist Registrar, specialising in heart failure and imaging) were to be joint winners cemented those thoughts. I am grateful to my supervisors who supported me in this journey and especially the participants who gave of their time to inform my research. This win is theirs too.

To find out more about the winners follow on twitter:




*Link to the report of the event including the announcement of the winners of the EIA:

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