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'I want to improve pressure ulcer management and prevention through collaboration'

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We talk to Jimmmy Choo, a research nurse specialising in wound care and pressure ulcers

Nt editorial jimmy choo

Nt editorial jimmy choo

Jimmy Choo

In a world of highly qualified healthcare professionals, there are still very few who have the scholarly repertoire of Dr Jimmy Choo.

“My first degree was in biochemistry and cell molecular biology at the National University of Malaysia,” he says. “I carried on doing a masters in biochemistry in Malaysia before I came over to Scotland, to the University of Stirling, to do my PhD.”

This was only the first stage of Dr Choo’s academic career. After obtaining his PhD in 2003, he went on to complete post-doctorates in plant biochemistry and molecular biology. But even this intensive research couldn’t satisfy his thirst for knowledge, or his desire to use that knowledge to help other people.

“After I did a couple of postdocs, I was thinking of changing my career to nursing,” Dr Choo says. He enrolled in an accelerated nursing programme at the University of Sheffield in 2007, and began working as a nurse the following year.

However, he wasn’t set on the path of research nursing until attending a conference in Malaysia in 2009. “That conference was great for collaborating and gaining contacts. That was the first time I got into contact with nurse academics at the University of Malaya, including my main contact Dr. Khatijah Lim,” he says. Dr Choo presented a case study on palliative care at this conference, and attended another in 2010, eventually becoming a part-time research nurse in tissue viability.

Though he also gained a lecturer position at the University of Leeds in 2011, his primary field of interest has remained tissue viability research, specifically in the areas of wound care and pressure ulcers. Fortunately, he now has the opportunity for his colleagues – as well as his contacts at the University of Malaya – to help him out.

“I’m hoping to be able to set up some research collaboration between our institutions, University of Leeds and University of Malaya,” Dr Choo says. “I feel quite passionate about this because I’m keen to improve pressure ulcer management and prevention, which is a problem not only restricted to the UK.”

Dr Choo recently received a research mobility award from the University of Leeds in order to establish this collaborative effort. He and his colleagues, Professor Steven Ersser and Professor Jane Nixon, have also put in a grant proposal to the Malaysian government to study pressure ulcers in Malaysia.

“Hopefully we can kind of build up a crystal mass of research academics in Malaysia who are interested in pressure ulcers. Then we could all contribute to a bigger programme of research in this particular area,” he says.

Though these research endeavours take up quite a bit of time and energy, Dr Choo still manages to balance them with lecturing at the University of Leeds. He admits that learning how to lecture involved a bit of a learning curve, but he also says that the transition from working with patients to students was a very natural one for him.

“I no longer see patients, but I’m sort of looking after students now. It’s very rewarding in the sense that you’re trying to train the next generation of nurses up,” he says. “And these are the nurses that are going to look after us – my colleagues and myself in the future.”

Dr Choo’s contributions as a lecturer do not go unacknowledged, and he says that hearing positive feedback from his students is one of his favourite parts of the job.

“You know you’ve made the right decision going back into academia when students tell you, ‘The things you’re teaching us are valuable.’ It’s very nice when students say that to you. You feel you’ve done something right,” he says.

And despite his vast range of academic experience, Dr Choo still seems to identify more with the role of a student than that of a teacher, at least in the sense that there’s always more to learn.

“Nursing teaches me a lot about life. Even going through nurse training itself taught me a lot about being a person,” he says. His many degrees notwithstanding, Dr Choo seems determined to continue this process of learning, both in medicine and throughout his life – and he is incredibly grateful to all those who have helped him along that path.

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