Fiona Yelnoorkar, matron for the clinical research directorate, is one of 35 nurses and midwives nationally and one of two regionally who have been appointed to the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Senior Research Leader programme.
The three-year programme aims to develop the research delivery workforce locally and regionally, and promote an integrated research culture to improve care for patients.
Midwife to matron
Fiona started her NHS career as a nurse in 2003 before becoming a midwife in 2007. In 2010, she became a research midwife at Newcastle Hospitals, followed by a region-wide role as lead midwife at the NIHR Local Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria in 2014.
During the COVID pandemic, Fiona returned to support the operational delivery of clinical research at the trust and oversaw the set-up of several large scale vaccine trials. She was then appointed as matron for the clinical research directorate in 2021.
As part of the programme, Fiona will spend two days a week building her leadership skills in research, and developing initiatives that enable nurses and midwives to support, develop and deliver research. While she will be working closely with reproductive health and childbirth nurses and midwives at Newcastle Hospitals, this is a regional role across the North East and North Cumbria.
Commenting on her place on the programme, Fiona said:
"I am extremely proud to have been selected to join the 2023 cohort of the NIHR Senior Research Leadership programme. This unique opportunity to represent the research delivery workforce will enable me to drive forward strategic vision and necessary change to promote, develop and integrate the essential role of the research midwife and nurse."Fiona Yelnookar
Linda Tinker, trust lead for nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals research, said:
“I’m delighted that Fiona has achieved this award. Fiona is already an inspirational leader, and a colleague I have worked with for many years in her different roles across the region.
“Fiona has most recently been pivotal in enabling and supporting research capacity and capability building with those clinical research delivery staff she leads in her research matron role at Newcastle.
“As a true advocate and champion for those around her, I am really looking forward to working with Fiona as she embarks on this next stage of her career, and look forward to supporting her to develop her exciting ideas further as we continue to strengthen the nursing and midwifery voice both within Newcastle and far beyond.
“This programme will support me to continue to work as a senior leader within my organisation and the wider specialty area of reproductive health and childbirth by providing me with the necessary time and the valuable tools required to achieve our priorities. “
- The programme has been launched following NIHR’s successful 70@70 programme, which was set up in 2019 to strengthen the research voice and influence of nurses and midwives in health and social care settings.