Dr Bernadette Brady is a titled musculoskeletal and pain physiotherapist who holds a Clinical Specialist Physiotherapy Position in SWSLHD and a Clinical Research Fellowship funded by SPHERE. Bernadette completed her PhD through Western Sydney University investigating novel culturally responsive approaches to pain management, for which her team won a prestigious 2017 NSW Health Award in the category of ‘Supporting our people’. Bernadette has a rapidly growing research track record since the completion of her PhD in 2019 and has secured over $80,000 in competitive grant funding as lead investigator to pursue equity focused projects seeking to improve access, patient engagement and chronic disease outcomes for patients from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities. She holds a conjoint lecturer position in Physiotherapy with Western Sydney University and a clinical lecturer affiliation with The University of Sydney where she supervises PhD and honours students in clinically embedded research in chronic pain and cultural responsiveness research. Through her research fellowship and clinical speciality roles Bernadette has designed, implemented, and coordinated a team of clinicians and multicultural health officers in clinically focused research using qualitative, community participatory, clinical trial and translation/cross-cultural adaptation methodologies.
If you have transitioned careers, what was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome?
After spending 10 years developing post-grad clinical expertise and completing a clinical specialty master’s degree, I took a turn into research. While not a complete career change, it did take me back to those early stages of learning. Now as a post-doc, the hurdle that I am trying to overcome is feeling somewhat an expert in one sense (clinically) and a relative novice in another (research). I try to remind myself that I didn’t get to where I am clinically overnight, and I should not expect that with research either.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
If I could change how I approached my PhD I would. For some reason, I expected to be able to do everything…to be able to continue my clinical work (hopefully uncompromised) and to complete a PhD by yesterday. It didn’t start out that way, but somewhere in the process I became absorbed by it all and started setting unrealistic expectations. I would tell myself to “smell the roses”, that no certificate can replace time lost with those important to you and taking the time may make the process longer, but no less valuable.
How do you balance the different activities and tasks you need to perform?
Someone taught me to think of my time as the best cake I have ever made. Only I can decide how I will divide the slices and who I will give it to. In moments of clarity, I define where I want the slices to go and in what proportions. When things get chaotic and I feel myself regularly giving more on the work domains, I try to picture myself physically taking something away from someone else’s share. I remind myself I can’t create more and try to understand the cost of constantly taking. It has been helpful restoring balance.
What are your favourite past‐times or hobbies?
I love sports, watching sport more so than playing these days. I love going to games to support my teams, usually fully kitted up in fanfare (Sydney Swans AFL, Parramatta Eels NRL, NSW Waratah’s in Super Rugby and of course State of Origin and the Bledisloe Cup). I reignited my love for motorbike riding when I finished my PhD (a reward and pictured in my profile). It is a great outlet from my usual day to day activities and persona.
If at times your confidence is shaky, where do you turn? What/who empowers you?
When I was a kid my pop (granddad) used to recite me a poem by Rudyard Kipling called ‘IF’. For tennis, fans you will even see a line quoted above the centre court at Wimbledon “if you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same”. The poem is a reminder about how to rise above adversity and is my go-to whenever I feel my confidence or motivation is shaky. Plus, it brings back wonderful memories of someone who certainly modelled its message to me.