Lisa Newcombe

Podiatry and Musculoskeletal Ultrasound Lecturer
BSc (Hons) in Podiatry 2008, PgC in Musculoskeletal Ultrasound Imaging 2010, PhD in Podiatric Medicine 2014 and PGCert Learning and Teaching 2016

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Lisa first came to GCU for a BSc in Podiatry in 2008. Since then she has become an expert in the field and specialised in musculoskeletal ultrasound, particularly its usefulness in early Rheumatoid Arthritis. 

She has excelled through four degrees at GCU and is now a valued lecturer in podiatry. We caught up with her to find out more about her career journey, including being approached by the University of Western Sydney.

Read more about Lisa here

Why did you decide to come to GCU? 

For my undergraduate degree, I decided initially to come to GCU because it’s so accessible since I live just outside of Glasgow. It was really attractive to me because I was able to travel to GCU quite readily and it’s quite close proximity to the city centre so it also has travel links. 

I also had the opportunity to come in on the open day. I was really impressed with the facilities at GCU and also liked the members of staff in podiatry so that really secured my decision to come here. 

For my postgraduate work, I decided to come back to GCU as I enjoyed my previous course and wanted to work with world renowned educators and researchers in the field, such as Professor Jim Woodburn and his team. Following graduation, I was fortunate to work with Jim as a research assistant. This experience exposed me to the inspirational research undertaken in GCU, which I wanted to be a part to make a difference.

What are your memories of GCU? 

The memories I have are really positive. I made a lot of really good lifelong friends, both in my undergraduate degree but then again into my postgraduate as well.

Unfortunately, I didn’t join a society or club. However, had there been a podiatry society like there is now I would have joined. I would say there are more opportunities now. 

Although I am not part of a society in GCU currently, I am proud of our podiatry society, who for two years running, won an award for their charity work. They have raised money for the Beatson Cancer Charity and at Christmas time, they run appeals to donate used shoes, new socks and sanitary products to the homeless community. 

Could you tell me a bit more about your current role? 

At the moment I’m working as a lecturer in podiatry but that also allows me to teach on the undergraduate podiatry programme, the medical ultrasound programme as well as undertaking research and clinical teaching in both of those roles. My research is focused on work understanding foot problems in patients with arthritis. 

You moved to Australia, can you tell me a bit more about that? 

I moved to Sydney in the final stages of writing my PhD thesis to work as a lecturer in podiatry. That opportunity came around when I was contacted by the University of Western Sydney, as so were others in GCU who were podiatry graduates and coming to the end of their theses. I was eligible to work as a podiatrist in Australia with my HCPC registered qualification in podiatry and my PhD gave me a wealth of experience and transferable skills in education and research to work as a lecturer in this field. 

Fortunately, during my PhD I was able to apply evidence based practice into the clinical environment, working with patients in specialised gait clinics and multi-disciplinary clinics. This allowed me to maintain currency in clinical skills and continue my development in clinical research. I was further able to extend my scope as a podiatrist in GCU with mentorship support and funding towards my qualification in musculoskeletal ultrasound for use in research and clinical practice.

What brought you back to the UK?

I had a fantastic experience in Australia and learned a vast range of new skills in a new institution. I came back to the UK as I absolutely love GCU as an institution. I really enjoyed my time in all the courses that I have done and I am privileged to be able to give back to an institution that gave me so much. I really enjoy working with such a supportive, dynamic, and dedicated teaching and research team, with the interests of their students and patients at heart. So that’s really what drew me back as well as missing friends and family. 

Do you think it’s important for students to do a semester abroad? 

Having experienced working & studying abroad, I think it’s a fantastic opportunity, where it’s possible to do that. For our undergraduate degree, we’ve got the La Trobe university exchange where our students are able to go out there for a trimester. That gives them so many other skills that they’ve got as part of their education. So, for example, they’ll be able to be independent as a person as well as a student. They’re able to gain life and professional experience in a different place.

What would you say is your proudest professional achievement to date? 

I would say being able to complete the PhD whilst taking on a new position in a new country, all the demands that came with that and all the commitments. I was able to come to the end, submit it and graduate with my PhD which is probably my greatest achievement. 

Can you describe your GCU experience in three words? 

I would say challenging, but also friendly and supportive.

What is your advice to current students? 

I think first and foremost it’s important for students to take time to decide on a career choice and area of study that inspires, motivates and fits them best as a person. To excel in university, it’s important to understand that coming into learning as an adult independent learner does come with challenges, which should be embraced. 

Also, they’ve got to be proactive in seeking out opportunities for learning wherever possible whether that is within the course or outside of that. There are also other societies or the Learning Development Centre so there’s a lot that GCU has on offer to support students coming into learning. 

As a student, it’s also important to have, where possible, time to yourself, or work-life balance, so they can put everything into their studies, particularly in a professional degree where they are expected to be working in clinics with patients, for example. It’s important to keep on top of learning but also engage with the social opportunities as well. 

I think it’s important to make sure that you have chosen the institution that is best for you and have researched the opportunities that are there in regards to the scope of the practice that is covered. In podiatry, there’s a lot of new scope that is coming in that makes a graduate eligible for coming out to practice with the currency of skills they need so it’s important to make sure that students research opportunities to be able to do that and also look out for the placement opportunities that are there. 

What are your plans for the future? 

I plan to continue my journey here in GCU. I recognise that I am very early on in my career so I really look forward to developing more as an educator and researcher in my field. 

I am fortunate and delighted to be working alongside friends and experts in my field, through research, academia and in the clinic, in the podiatry department of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, so to be able to engage with them and continue developing on my journey is important to me.

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