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Collaboration case study: Sarah Foley, Psychology - Rosie Neonatal Intensive Care Unit & the Evelyn Perinatal Imaging Centre

Rosie Neonatal Intensive Care Unit & the Evelyn Perinatal Imaging Centre

Summary of your collaborative activity:

I completed a 3-month internship, between January – March 2016, on the Rosie
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and also became a part of the Evelyn
Perinatal Imaging Centre (EPIC - the perinatal neuroscience research group) led
by Consultant Neonatologist Topun Austin. 

What were the aims of your collaborative activity?

The first aim of my internship was to learn new research methods and clinical skills. I did this by: (1) attending weekly meetings with the Evelyn Perinatal Imaging Centre; (2) shadowing clinicians on NICU, observe multi-disciplinary team meetings (including the weekly ‘grand round’ and psycho-social meetings) and hand-over procedures; (3) recruited and assisted researchers in the Evelyn Perinatal Imaging Centre and on the NICU (e.g., infant MRI study with Professor John Suckling).

The second aim of my internship was to gain a better understanding of the impact of parenting in the NICU. I did this by: (1) attend the bi-monthly premrose support groups, specifically with a view to learn more about the experiences of fathers; (2) following patients through the transition back home by being present at clinical discussions, observing parent preparation for home life and shadowing the community midwife on and off-site; (3) talking with parents at risk of premature delivery on the Sara Ward.

The third aim of my internship to organise a knowledge exchange session with the Evelyn Perinatal Imaging Centre Research team during the last month of my internship. I presented a seminar to the EPIC research group which had a dual focus: (1) my PhD research (2) reflections, as a psychologist, on the 3-months I’d spent on the NICU. The seminar encouraged an interesting discussion to take place on the transition to parenthood and the development of parental sensitivity (my main research interest) and how staff on the NICU may help or hinder this process. Following on from this, Dr Austin asked me to summarise the seminar and the discussion for all NICU and Rosie staff and so I wrote a piece entitled “Psychologist on the Wall” for the NICU newsletter “Neonatal Allsorts”.

What ‘added value’ has this collaborative activity brought to you as a DTC student?

The internship has helped me think about the implications of my PhD research, specifically broadening my understanding of parent-child relationships and possible interventions which will help when writing up my discussion and conclusions. In addition, I learnt about new research methods, specifically helping recruit and conduct the infant fMRI study. I also made important connections with staff at the hospital which will be invaluable in the future. The internship provided me with the opportunity to learn how to communicate my research with a variety of different audiences in the form of a seminar and a hospital newsletter.

More broadly speaking, the internship increased my understanding of different career options and the opportunity to shadow clinical psychologists gave me a real insight into what the day-to-day experience would be like if I pursued this option in the future. I also enjoyed being a part of a completely different working environment which is completely different to that of an academic institution.