Mentoring: a key strategy for supporting practitioner researchers in Community Health

Posted 5 July 2013

The Primary and Community Health Research Unit (PCHRU), through its Researcher Mentoring Program (RMP), links practitioner researchers to mentors who provide technical and specialist input needed for quality research. One project currently underway is being led by two clinicians in the Paediatric Physical Disability Team based in Liverpool Hospital: Kate Margetson, a Speech Pathologist, and Sarah Carman, an Occupational Therapist. They wanted to describe and evaluate a novel classroom-based program their team runs to assess and prescribe Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) devices for children at the Prairiewood School in New South Wales.


They applied for the RMP in December 2011 and were accepted into the program in early 2012. Two mentors with clinical and research experience joined the project team early in 2011: Kate Short, an experienced Speech Pathologist based at UNSW’s Centre for Health Evaluation Training Research and Education (CHETRE) and Emma Friesen, a Rehabilitation Engineer and PCHRU’s Research Officer.


The mentors have been closely involved in designing and conducting research and in presenting aspects of the project to colleagues through local and national events. Ms Friesen described the experience as valuable for the team. “The project is giving us good insight into how the Paediatric Physical Disability Teams work and how it is leading to better communication outcomes for children at the School. It’s also showing how busy clinicians can do research projects as part of their day-to-day work.” The team hopes to complete the project by the end of 2013. Learn more ( )