Professor of Rheumatology Nursing

Sarah Ryan was recently appointed as a Professor of Rheumatology Nursing. This is an innovative post funded by the Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and the Haywood Foundation, a local charity to improve the lives of people with arthritis. The vision for this appointment is to combine research, education and clinical practice to enhance patient care.

Sarah has worked as a Nurse Consultant in Rheumatology since 2000. Sarah is editor of Musculoskeletal Care, a journal which provides a voice to nurses and allied health professionals working within the speciality. Sarah was made a fellow of the Royal College of Nursing in 2003 for her contribution to rheumatology nursing.

Findings from Sarah’s PhD identified that musculoskeletal pain was not adequately addressed within routine care. This provided the stimulus to create a local nurse-led musculoskeletal pain service. This service has helped patients optimise their physical, psychological, and social functioning as well as reducing the utilisation of other hospital based services. Subsequent research has focused on the educational needs of nurses, allied health professionals and patients. The findings of which have been used to inform content of postgraduate courses. Current research, in collaboration with researchers from the UWE, involves the development of a skills training package for rheumatology teams to enhance self-management. It will be interesting to see what impact this training has on patient care. Future research will explore the use of education passports for health professionals. Professor Christian Mallen, Director of the Institute for Primary Care and Health Sciences, is delighted to have the opportunity to work with one of the leading academic rheumatology nurses, highlighting the natural synergy between Prof Ryan’s research interests and those in the Research Institute.

Dr Patricia Owen, Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery identified the benefits of having a Professor of Rheumatology Nursing working with the School in terms of supporting the research strategy and culture, mentoring neophyte researchers and providing the evidence base for education programmes. Professor Ryan is keen to develop the opportunity for multi-disciplinary collaboration both in terms of research and clinical developments. It is commonplace in nursing to have link nurses in speciality areas such as diabetes. This model could be developed and lead to the creation of rheumatology/chronic disease link nurses working with patient ambassadors to increase the knowledge and skills of health professionals who care for rheumatology patients in a number of healthcare settings.

Having a Professor of Rheumatology Nursing will contribute to developing a nursing research culture that remains patient and public focused. Through increasing the capacity for nursing research locally, nationally and internationally the evidence base for clinical nursing care will increase and benefit patient outcomes.


Top 10 in Nursing for The Complete University Guide 2020 Student Nursing Times Awards 2019 finalist Bronze Athena Swan Award