Hello, my name’s Liesl and I’m a senior respiratory physiologist with 15 years’ experience in clinical settings. Last year I left the clinical settings to pursue a career as a research respiratory physiologist with the aim of progressing onto the position of consultant physiologist after completing a PhD.
My PhD is looking at breathomics in COPD. This includes looking at clinical data, inflammation and infection to see if there is a potential breath biomarker that can be identified using diagnostic equipment such as mass spectrometry.
Being a physiologist in research can be a rewarding career as I now have a wide range of skills that a clinical physiologist would not have. However, there are currently not many of us, as most research staff are nurses or doctors. My physiology skills and knowledge are used every day, while I am talking to patients with COPD or using the wide array of diagnostic equipment on acute studies.
I love my job in research, and helping to find a potential biomarker in breath is very exciting. I also have an inspiring supervisor and work in an amazing team that, when I feel that my research is going nowhere, encourage me to carry on. I am also working as part of the EMBER project, which is one of the biggest breathomics projects in the Midlands, which is a fantastic opportunity.
Feeling frustrated can be the most challenging part of my job: for example, I may follow a lead and then after a number of weeks it’s a negative result at the end – even though I have been told that negativity can be a good result as well!
If I could wave a magic wand I would ask for more patients to take part in research. Sadly a lot of time can be taken up by ringing around and trying to find patient to be involved, so bringing research to the forefront of the NHS would be an amazing idea to encourage staff and patients to think about taking part.