Professor Jackie Sturt
Professor of Behavioural Medicine in Nursing
Faculty Lead for Research Mentorship
Date started at King’s
Challenges and achievements
When and what was responsible for you becoming interested in your academic discipline?
As a nurse practitioner in 1988 when I began to study for a post-registration undergraduate degree and met nurses who were undertaking Masters and Doctoral degrees. Later I decided to study for a doctorate which linked nursing and health psychology and when I joined the newly formed Warwick Diabetes Care research group, I applied this in Diabetes which had long been a clinical interest of mine.
What are your research interests, and what drew you to this area?
Diabetes self-management has been a research interest since around 2000 and more recently I have developed a particular interest in Diabetes Distress. I held a clinical secondment in the WISDEM Centre diabetes clinic in Coventry as a "Diabetes Listener" from 2010-2011 where I worked with people who were struggling to cope with their diabetes. Their Diabetes Distress levels were very high and this influenced their self-management behaviours. Young adults are a population of high concern because they are vulnerable to Diabetes Distress, poor blood glucose control and diabetes complications.
Tell us about a couple of your achievements that have been particularly rewarding.
Working as a "Diabetes Listener" was a humbling experience. Just simply being listened to by someone who understood and did not judge enabled people to start to regain some control over how they managed their diabetes and their health in general. Taking complex clinical problems and developing them into research questions is very rewarding, knowing that you are trying to find evidence-based solutions for patients and professionals alike is really important to me. Recently my colleague, Dr Kathryn Dennick, and I have been collaborating with international experts in a Diabetes Distress research and they have helped to expand our understanding.
Do you have professional role models? Who are they and what do you find inspiring about them and their accomplishments?
I have been fortunate to have many career mentors along the way and all of them have passed on their many qualities. I learnt to give colleagues freedom to manage their work from Prof Jeremy Dale, to diarise writing activity from Prof Frances Griffiths and to see rejected grant applications as an opportunity to improve the science from Dr Hilary Hearnshaw, all from Warwick Medical School. I am learning how to be a Professor from all my new professorial colleagues in the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing & Midwifery.
What do you feel is the most enjoyable/rewarding aspect of your job at King’s?
Academic enquiry is so stimulating and there are some great new collaborators for me at King's. I am a nurse who has never previously worked in a School of Nursing and I am enjoying reconnecting with my foundation profession. I really love cycling through Central London to get to my office at the Waterloo campus. London is a beautiful city and King's had several great campus locations that I can get to by Boris Bike.
How do you balance the various demands of a career in academia: research, teaching/learning, administration?
Sometimes I am not sure that balance is the word I would use. Being aware of the upcoming priority is probably how I best juggle all the elements of the role. Then, when a funding deadline approaches you put everything to one side and just focus.
How do you balance an academic career with life outside the workplace?
I work 75% because I have a few other aspects to my life that I want to make room for such as a family and being a partner in a couple of small businesses. This also gives me choices if I want to spend some of my own time working on my research. My husband often says that we have to work smart not hard and I try to keep this in mind. I have a fairly long train commute and I make use of every minute of it.
What have you learnt from your experiences that you would like to share with others?
Take risks and be prepared to move out of your comfort zone but at the same time try and have an overall plan of where, theoretically, you might being heading. Really importantly I would say, work with people you like and trust even if it means taking a change of direction.