When talking to nurses in the UK before I came to Portugal, the general consensus was that there was little or no research being done by nurses and allied health professionals in Portugal and all the research in health and social care was lead by medical doctors and academics.
This view was pretty much supported by the health care professionals I met during my first week at the Central Hospital University Coimbra in Portugal. However, I kept digging and kept asking the question and eventually found the gold. On Wednesday this week, I was privileged to meet three nurses, Joao, Johanne and Lisa, three pioneers pushing the frontier of nursing research in the Portuguese healthcare system. They met at university several years ago and are all experienced nurses in their field of practice. In 2012 they decided to enter a competition for a new research idea and unexpectedly they won and their research career was born. Over the last 5 years they have been researching the impact of functional rehabilitation on frail elderly. They have adapted and developed standardised tools and revalidated them for their patient group. They have worked evenings, weekends and holidays and also during this 5 years, Joao has completed his PhD and Johanne and Lisa have had their children.
They are now ready to publish their research and they have been given 3 days by their employers to write their submission.
Naturally they expressed some of their frustrations and disappointments with the system they work in and the lack of opportunity or career pathways open to them as clinical nurses doing research but I have no doubt that they will continue to do research regardless of the challenges they may face. They have real grit and determination to achieve so much more and because of them and many like them I am sure we will see many more Portuguese nurses and allied health professionals doing research in the future.
Sadly I did not take any photos of these impressive people so in their honour here is a picture of the most famous pioneering nurse.