Domna Salonen

“With the right mentors and peers, the journey is not a lonely one”

– Shape your own vision of what you want to do

Domna Salonen

Occupational Therapist

I became an allied health professional because I was passionate about people living with a sense of meaning and purpose. I wanted to walk alongside people going through life’s tragedies, help them discover hope and connect with what matters the most to them.

The same beliefs and values drew me towards research during my undergraduate training.   So great was the drive to learn and push myself beyond my comfort zones that I moved countries and regions to make this dream of a therapist-researcher career a reality!

Healthcare practice has brought a unique focus to my thinking as the identities of an early career researcher, frontline healthcare professional, practice educator and collective leader have all become a part of my working life. Whether these roles have existed in cohesion or conflict, I have applied multiple lenses to everything I see, hear and do.

Since 2019, I have worked and lived in the North-East of England with my family, taking increasingly decisive steps to make a therapeutic difference in the world through co-produced research. I held a HEE/NIHR Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship from October 2020 – September 2022, and currently I work in two qualitative research projects as a part of multidisciplinary research teams. My research interests are in intergenerational mental health in families and communities. In my mental health research career, I want to find the best ways to implement compassionate and holistic support for people experiencing multiple and co-occurring conditions that affect their mental health and wellbeing. A key part of my envisaged international research career is working together with experts by experience and in interdisciplinary teams to shape our health systems.

Allied health practice is a strong foundation for research which can translate into meaningful impact. Furthermore, carving a research career path is an endless resource of continuous professional development. We enter a road towards making good changes happen in the world, and the journey changes us.

“I would recommend anyone holding similar dreams to get their foot on that path as soon as possible: talk to people, keep thinking, shape your vision of what you want to do, be and become. Early steps are not easy but with the right supervisors, mentors and peers the journey is not a lonely one.”

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