Rona Inniss – KHPeople

Ronna InnissWhat is your role? 

I am a Clinical Nurse Specialist. I usually work in the neurofibromatosis team at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust (NHS FT), but this year I am completing a HEE/NIHR ICA Pre-doctoral Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship (PCAF) and an ACORN (A Centre of Research for Nurses and Midwives) Clinical Nurse/Midwife Fellowship. 

Before becoming a nurse, I studied and worked in architecture. Through the PCAF I am combining my experiences in nursing and architecture by investigating patient and staff experiences of healthcare environments. The PCAF is providing protected time to develop a robust PhD application and I am planning to apply for NIHR funding to continue researching this area. 

Can you tell us about ACORN fellowship and why you applied? 

ACORN was set up to support nurses and midwives to engage with research and to facilitate nurse and midwife led research. 

I applied for the ACORN fellowship because I want to be a rounded clinical academic. The fellowship will help me to develop a better understanding of how operational and strategic goals align and misalign. I’m learning how research is and could better be embedded in the culture of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS FT. The fellowship aims to build understanding and perspective of strategic leadership and objectives specifically regarding research and so it dovetailed perfectly with the PCAF. I’m using the time to develop my own research leadership skills and experience, which will also make me a much stronger applicant for any NIHR programmes. 

What do you enjoy most about your role? 

The most rewarding part of being a specialist nurse is advocating for patients. I enjoy having the time to find out what is really going on in a way I didn’t when I was on the ward. I want to improve things for patients and empower patients. 

Working with ACORN and as a researcher, I still get to advocate for patients. I’m still trying to work with people to improve things, and I’m still trying to find out what’s really going on. Being a nurse-researcher means advocacy and empowerment run through everything we do – who better to know how we can improve things than patients and staff on the floor? 

What are your plans for the research link practitioner programme and how can people get involved? 

As part of the ACORN fellowship, I am aiming to pilot a research link practitioner programme – I want to explore how research champions might support nurse and midwifery research engagement. The intention is that the link practitioner programme will embed the research link role in clinical areas. Along with helping with research delivery it will support research capacity building for nurses and midwives. 

Do get in touch if you are interested in this research link practitioner project ( We would love to hear from you if you have any experience or resources you would be willing to share around setting up and maintaining research link practitioner roles.