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Funded PhD Opportunity

An assessment of podiatrists' clinical interpretation of medical images and diagnostic accuracy with the aid of eye tracking technology

Subject: Nursing and Health


Summary

With continuing long-term fiscal restraint, NHS staff need to maximise the contributions of the entire workforce, design innovative ways of delivering services that enhance the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of services. Most hospitals in the UK now share the task of x-ray image reporting between the radiographers and radiologists. More recently, the newly developed role of the advanced Allied Health professional (AHP) and Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP) adds to this innovative practice whereby Advanced Allied Health Practitioner (AAP’s) are undertaking specialist training under supported and governed systems of work. This enables them to undertake preliminary clinical evaluation and clinical reporting whilst working in the multi-disciplinary team. With appropriate skills development, they can make first line interpretation of images in support of patient management.

Whilst advanced podiatrists will have had radiation protection IRMER training to assist in on-going patient management, there is a lack of training in the interpretation of images. With the development of a regional diabetic foot service in Northern Ireland this added skill is even more important as this multi-disciplinary podiatry led team will have high risk cases loads dealing with foot conditions which will require accurate, immediate diagnosis and management to prevent life and limb threatening events. Advanced podiatrists are also involved in multidisciplinary teams working in the fields of muscoskeletal disorders, again the need for accurate and timely diagnosis of the imaging is imperative in the management of their case load.

Despite all these advances in team working and delivery of services, there is limited development of online teaching/educational tools to support these new innovative staff roles.

Aim:

To test the feasibility of an educational training tool to enhance clinician’s ability to clinically evaluate medical images.

Objectives:

To test the feasibility of a training platform using expert informed search strategies mediated using Tobii eye tracking videos of experts and a web-based interactive educational tool.

To assess the impact and effectiveness of the digital training platform on participant performance.

Methods:

Search strategies using experienced reporters will be combined to develop an optimal search strategy training tool which will use a series of questions, diagrams and prompts to guide the user to systematically search the image and form a diagnosis.

An educational programme will be developed using videos of expert’s eye gazes and voice recording during image interpretation with the aid of the search strategy training tool. 100 Podiatry clinicians will be recruited and randomised to use this training platform or not. They will interpret a series of digital medical images whilst thinking aloud to give insight into the subject’s cognitive processes whilst image viewing.

The Tobii Eye Tracking device will be used to non-invasively and unobtrusively track participant eye movement patterns. Pre and post intervention data will determine effectiveness of the training platform. Ethical approval will be sought from Office of Research Ethics Committee (OREC).

Data analysis:

Data will be categorised and any statistically significant differences will be determined between the different age groups and expert groups using Chi-Square and/or t-tests.


This PhD project would suit an Allied Health Practitioner OR a computer science graduate with appropriate knowledge of research processes. Ideally the successful student should have experience of working in the NHS.


Essential criteria

  • To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement
  • Clearly defined research proposal detailing background, research questions, aims and methodology
  • A demonstrable interest in the research area associated with the studentship

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • First Class Honours (1st) Degree
  • Masters at 65%
  • Practice-based research experience and/or dissemination
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal
  • Relevant professional qualification and/or a Degree in a Health or Health related area

Funding

    The University offers the following awards to support PhD study and applications are invited from UK, EU and overseas for the following levels of support:

    Vice Chancellors Research Studentship (VCRS)

    Full award (full-time PhD fees + DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £15,000 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Bursary (VCRB)

    Part award (full-time PhD fees + 50% DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £7,500 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fees Bursary (VCRFB)

    Fees only award (PhD fees + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Department for the Economy (DFE)

    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fee’s component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non-EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK. This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Due consideration should be given to financing your studies; for further information on cost of living etc. please refer to: www.ulster.ac.uk/doctoralcollege/postgraduate-research/fees-and-funding/financing-your-studies


Other information


The Doctoral College at Ulster University


Reviews

Profile picture of Professor Stenver Lin

Ulster University has very enhanced independent  learning.  I strongly recommend my students to go abroad to broaden their vision to get  new motivation.  I tell them that when studying at Ulster University, they will receive an abundance of knowledge, new experiences and strong technology to enhance their life.

Professor Stenver Lin - PhD Radiology

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Profile picture of Professor Chein Huei Kao

I am currently the Director for the Department of Nursing-midwifery and Women's Heath at NTUNHS.  I studied at Ulster University for 3 years and it was a very happy time.  Ulster is very good for study, not only in academic work but it also shows you how to be a good teacher.

Professor Chein Huei Kao - PhD Health Science of Nursing

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Key dates

Submission deadline
Friday 7 February 2020

Interview Date
19th/20th March 2020


Applying

Apply Online  


Campus

Jordanstown campus

Jordanstown campus
The largest of Ulster's campuses


Contact supervisor

Dr Sonyia McFadden


Other supervisors

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