Rising physio stars set to make waves

Westmead physios
Westmead Hospital physios Dragana and Emre are undertaking PhD studies this year.

Westmead Hospital’s physiotherapy department has a long history of commitment to, and participation in, clinical research.

Department archives reveal a wealth of evidence of this, some of which dates back to the mid-1990s.

Fast forward to more recent times, which have seen the establishment of the WSLHD Allied Health Research Steering Committee and the appointment of a Professor of Allied Health.

Physiotherapy department head Maria Quinlivan said staff from her department have collaborated on interdisciplinary projects, presented at national conferences and have had their work published in scientific journals. 

“Over time we’ve had increasing numbers of Westmead physiotherapy colleagues pursuing PhD studies,” said Maria.

“We currently have two staff members who have completed PhDs, and four who are at various stages of this journey.”

Dragana Ceprnja and Emre Ilhan are both examples of this.

Dragana is a senior staff member and is a health educator. She chairs WSLHD’s local physiotherapy department research committee, and is the physiotherapy representative on the Allied Health Research Steering Committee.

Dragana also mentors and supports junior staff embarking on research, and undertakes clinical research herself. 

She commenced her PhD last year and believes it will be very important to her career development.

“I have a strong commitment to the physiotherapy profession and my workplace,” said Dragana. 

“I want to gain the relevant skills and knowledge needed to be able to evaluate healthcare practice in order to ensure we provide an effective and evidence based service to our community.” 

Emre is an intern physiotherapist. Interns complete a 12 month graduate year at WSLHD, which he will complete this month. 

He has been accepted to commence his PhD at Macquarie University this year. 

Emre said his PhD will look into ways pain can be better managed in tiny patients at neonatal intensive care units.

“Babies admitted into neonatal intensive care units undergo multiple painful procedures every day, and even more so if they have undergone surgery,” Emre said.

“My PhD will be looking at those babies who continue to experience pain beyond the expected time, and how better to assess and manage these.

“Research is an integral part of evidence-based practice, and I have decided to embark on the PhD journey to improve my skills in research and contribute to the growing body of evidence in allied health.” 

All the best to our rising starts Dragana and Emre!