Karen Whittaker

I was promoted to Reader in 2016 having spent over 17 years as a Senior Lecturer and I didn’t expect that I would be promoted. I felt I had become a bit stuck as had been in the same job, though very varied, at the same grade for a long time. I was uncertain whether my “lack of a visible career trajectory,” would be sufficient to get me through to a Reader position. Additionally, there had been little movement at a senior level within the Faculty. The last re-organisation resulted in new Schools in the Faculty and an increase in the number of senior posts. Additionally the Executive Dean, Nigel Harrison, responsible for the re-organisation, recommended that I attend the Aurora Woman’s Development Programme. This did the trick. I found the course liberating and it gave me confidence to apply for jobs. The practical and down-to-earth tips and tools also suited my pragmatic nature. As I became ready for the Reader role, one was advertised, I applied and got the job.

I think it is important to mentions how generous and lacking in educational ego UCLan has been in actively supporting my academic and research adventures. They were able to appreciate that skills and qualifications gained elsewhere would not only develop me as an individual but also UCLan  on my return. Part of the deal was that they trusted I would return, not only for family reasons but also due to a sense of belonging to UCLan as an academic institution. My PhD was undertaken at King’s College London under the supervision of the recently retired Professor Dame Sarah Crowley.  She not only supervised my research based PhD – Parenting family support, a realistic evaluation - but also steered me through the labyrinth process of applying for a London based University from regional NHS funders in the North West. I worked part-time at UCLan in my teaching role and part time as a PhD student paid for by NHS North West.

What followed was a part-time secondment to Kings College as a Research Fellow, my dream job, working in the National Nursing Research Unit on the research programme complementing the national health visitor workforce implementation plan. I combined this with continued teaching at UCLan.  This was such an enriching experience, and has led me to working with UNICEF to support home visiting internationally.