As a professor of nursing Louise Condon uses her first-hand experience in working in healthcare to inform her research and teaching.
But it is not the career she originally envisioned when she was an 18-year-old undergraduate at the University of Bristol.
“I was always academic at school and went on to study English Literature - my first love. But after gaining my degree I wanted to do something practical and useful so decided to become a nurse to do voluntary service overseas. However, I haven’t got there yet!”
Instead, Louise stayed in the UK and trained as a nurse in Cardiff (shorted course for graduates), then trained as midwife in London before becoming a health visitor in Bristol.
She eventually entered full-time academia in 2010 after studying for a PhD at the School for Policy Studies at the University of Bristol.
“In 2017 I became Professor of Nursing in a joint post between Swansea University and Swansea Bay University Health Board.
“Since then, I have had a fascinating time combining research into health inequalities with supporting NHS nurses and midwives to become engaged with and publish research.
“And that English degree does come in useful when it comes to writing bids, reviewing and being a journal editor.”
Louise’s interest in research began during her clinical career, when she would base research projects on ideas arising from her clinical practice.
“For instance, when I was a health visitor working in an affluent area in the 1990s, I observed high levels of vaccine hesitancy among parents. Many had been influenced by Andrew Wakefield’s notorious Lancet paper, so I took to carrying a copy of this around with me to demonstrate the scant rationale for any connection between the MMR vaccine and autism.”
At the same time Louise was involved in a primary care research project to explore attitudes to MMR immunisation among immunising and non-immunising parents
“In my research career, I have been concerned with the health of the most disadvantaged. Most recently I have focused on exploring the health needs and service use of Roma, Gypsies, and Travellers, who experience the worst health outcomes of any ethnic group in the UK.”
Louise was part of the NIHR-funded team who explored child and adult immunisation among Travellers. This study has influenced policy in the UK and abroad, currently contributing to understanding of how best to promote and facilitate Covid vaccination for minority ethnic groups.
Louise’s next career move will see her becoming an Emeritus Professor of Swansea University in August, 2021. She will continue as co-PI with Dr Menna Price on a project funded by Alcohol Change UK as well as working with Professor Sergei Shubin and his team on the EU Horizons COVINFORM project which is investigating the impact of Covid-19 on vulnerable groups