Meet Nikki Manvell, the lead of NSWRHP’s Musculoskeletal Research In Practice Network

What motivated the establishment of the Musculoskeletal Research In Practice Network?

It was fuelled by the collective passion of a group of local clinicians who wanted to enhance the quality of care provided to patients in our community with musculoskeletal conditions. We wanted to find a way to overcome barriers across various clinics, disciplines and stakeholders involved in musculoskeletal care to share knowledge, improve research translation and find solutions to local problems. As a single practitioner working alone in one clinic you can only achieve so much, but as the Network continues to grow, we have the potential to have a much greater impact across musculoskeletal health care.

What led to your current role as Musculoskeletal Research In Practice Network chair?

A perfect storm of timing and passion! Together with Connor Gleadhill and Andrew Delbridge, former chairs, we conceptualised and established the Musculoskeletal Research in Practice Network. In 2023, due to my husband’s training, we relocated to Coffs Harbour for a year, prompting a difficult decision to step away from my busy clinical caseload in Newcastle. Fortunately, this move created an opportunity for me to focus on a new strategic direction for the network and take on the responsibility as chairperson, alongside a wonderful colleague and friend Stephanie Hodgson, who does an incredible job to support me in this role.

Could you highlight some success stories of the Musculoskeletal Research In Practice Network?

Certainly! The Network continues to move from one success to another. Connor’s amazing efforts and PhD work led to the co-production and publication of three research papers in peer-reviewed journals. One piece that we are particularly proud of is our work in producing a model defining high value care for physiotherapy practice. This work has been presented at the Australian Physiotherapy Association Conference in Brisbane and is now being used to inform policy in the department of health and ageing.

The Network has shifted its strategic plan towards research translation, implementing a quality improvement cycle. By asking our members to identify local problems, forming expert panels, and collaboratively discussing optimal care pathways, the network has seen remarkable growth. In 2023, we ran four Insight Sessions on various topics and attracted around 230 clinicians. Our membership grew from 75 to 158 members over 12 months in response to these events. We now represent about 40% of private practice physiotherapy clinics in the Hunter region and have plans to continue to diversify into other disciplines involved in musculoskeletal care such as orthopaedics, podiatry, exercise physiology, sports medicine and general practice.

Are there any exciting opportunities on the horizon for the Musculoskeletal Research In Practice Network?

We have just released our Musculoskeletal Insight Session (MIS) Event calendar for 2024 – seeing eight events, including case nights and panel presentations. We have received feedback from our members about the topics they would like to hear about and are currently busy securing local experts to speak on these topics. The network is developing pre- and post-survey questionnaires to assess the effectiveness of the sessions in improving knowledge translation.

We are set to present at the Primary Health Network Allied Health Conference in May at the Hunter Valley, showcasing our innovative solutions to local problems using the multidisciplinary collaborative approach to musculoskeletal issues in the region.

Share an interesting or unexpected fact about yourself.

I tend to become obsessed with hobbies very quickly and invest a large amount of money before I have developed the necessary skills. This recently took shape with my pursuits of golfing and triathlons. Despite owning 12 pairs of running shoes and a top-of-the-line Ping driver, I’m still reasonably hopeless (all the gear and no idea). I also love anything dinosaur related.

Follow the link to learn more about the Musculoskeletal Research In Practice Network.