Since 2009, through its Early Researcher Award, the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) has recognised and supported the work of scientists and clinicians who make an outstanding contribution to palliative care research.
Here, we publish an abridged version of an article by Lucy Selman, Matthew Maddocks and Stephanie Stiel as they reflect on the path their careers have taken since they won the award in 2012. Read the full article in the November/December issue of the European Journal of Palliative Care – and think about applying for the 2016 Early Researcher Award.
A stepping stone along the path…
Lucy Selman, Cicely Saunders International Faculty Scholar, Cicely Saunders Institute, Department of Palliative Care, Policy and Rehabilitation, King’s College London, UK, writes:
After eight years of research in palliative care in India, Africa and the UK, I was honoured to be awarded the Early Researcher Award in 2012. It was a high point of my career to give a plenary presentation in Trondheim on my PhD research, which investigated the spiritual well-being of patients receiving palliative care in South Africa and Uganda. It was daunting to present to such an expert audience, but also immensely rewarding.
The award opened many doors, offering new opportunities, widening my network of research partners and strengthening my relationships with colleagues in Europe. Since 2011, I have been Co-chair of the research subgroup of the EAPC Spiritual Care Taskforce. With funding from the Sir Halley Stewart Trust, I organised conferences on spiritual care at the Cicely Saunders Institute in 2012 and 2014, and coordinated an international focus group study exploring patients’ and carers’ experiences and preferences related to spiritual care (InSpirit). Through my links with the EAPC Taskforce, I was also invited to attend an international expert meeting on spiritual care in Geneva in 2013.
Central to my work in the past three years was being appointed Cicely Saunders International Faculty Scholar in February 2013. This postdoctoral position aims to foster future leaders in palliative care research. The Early Researcher Award added to my confidence in taking up this role.
Wider aspects of career learning
Matthew Maddocks, Specialist Physiotherapist and Lecturer in Health Services Research, Cicely Saunders Institute, Department of Palliative Care, Policy and Rehabilitation, King’s College London, UK, writes:
Receiving an Early Researcher Award in 2012 was a great confidence boost. It felt like a mark of international recognition of my doctorate research, which focused on the role of exercise for people with cancer cachexia. Three years on, I hold a lecturer post with a focus on health services research for older people and am based at the Cicely Saunders Institute in London, led by Professor Irene Higginson. This position offers relative stability, and I’m beginning to grow a team to explore the interface between palliative care and rehabilitation. Reaching this point has involved navigating the usual academic hurdles: turning ideas into grants, studies into papers, and passing on findings via effective dissemination. Of course this is, in part, the result of hard work, persistence and some good fortune. It is also due to sound advice from my mentors and colleagues. In my longer article in the journal I reflect on these wider aspects of career learning.
There is far more to learn. I am only just being exposed to the wider aspects of leadership, such as team management and effectively influencing policy-makers. I am truly grateful for the continued support of my mentors, who pass on their expert knowledge, without hesitation, to invest in me and in the specialty.
Using cleaning buckets as flower vases
Stephanie Stiel, Psychologist and Leader of the Research Unit, Department of Palliative Medicine, Erlangen University Hospital, Germany, writes:
To be one of the Early Researcher Award winners in 2012 was a great honour and very meaningful to me. I wasn’t convinced that I was competitive enough to make it through the selection process, but in the end I gained plenty of self-esteem from this achievement.
Looking back on my career since winning the award, most meaningful to me was the chance to finish my ‘habilitation’ – this is a German postdoctoral qualification that opens up a teaching career in higher university education. This had been my goal since 2010 when I finished my doctoral thesis. When I gave my inaugural speech, ‘How much time is left? Prognosis in terminally ill patients’, I received so many bouquets of flowers that I had to use my cleaning buckets as flower vases. It was a wonderful event!
Then, my head of department, Professor Christoph Ostgathe, gave me the chance to become leader of the research unit at the department of palliative medicine, Erlangen University Hospital. I am responsible for the entire research team, do a lot more supervisory work and have the honour to pass my knowledge and experience on to my colleagues.
Finally, an invitation to join the scientific committee of the 14th EAPC World Congress in 2015 gave me the chance to chair scientific sessions, and even a plenary session together with Augusto Caraceni. All this gave me new and exciting insights into the organisation of an EAPC congress. I very much enjoyed working with some of my most admired role models and am thankful to the EAPC for this great opportunity.
EAPC Early Researcher Award 2016 – online submission open now!
This year we will award three separate awards: one for early researchers, one for researchers at post doc. level and one for clinical researchers. Deadline for applications: 13 December 2015. To download eligibility criteria and an application form, please visit the congress website (Choose ‘Scientific’ and follow links to ‘Early Research Award’. Read posts from previous ERA winners here.
Read the full article in the European Journal of Palliative Care
This post relates to a longer article, ‘EAPC Early Researcher Award 2016 – Looking back’, by Lucy Selman, Matthew Maddocks and Stephanie Stiel, published in the November/December 2015 issue of the European Journal of Palliative Care (vol. 22.6). If you have a web-based subscription to the journal you’ll be able to download this issue, plus all articles in the journal archive. You can also browse the archive and download articles by taking a 10-minute or 30-minute subscription. Members of the EAPC receive discounted subscription rates to the journal – click here to subscribe online.
The full article will also be available to download free of charge from the EAPC website – check our website in the coming days.