Prof Blackwood’s career began in clinical practice as a registered general nurse. She worked in Northern Ireland and Germany before moving into clinical education and research. In 1995, she moved to Queen’s University Belfast. Her PhD – a trial of protocolised weaning from mechanical ventilation in the intensive care unit (ICU) – was awarded by Kings College London in 2005. In 2012, she moved to the Experimental Medicine research centre and received a personal Chair in Critical Care in 2017.
Her research focuses on providing evidence for bed-side practice and specifically on interventions to improve outcomes for ICU patients. These include optimising sedation and weaning from mechanical ventilation; preventing or managing delirium; and rehabilitation of ICU survivors. She is currently leading a large funded multicentre trial of sedation and weaning in 18 Paediatric ICUs.
Encouraging uptake of evidence-based practice is a major part of her work. This involves conducting systematic reviews for guideline development and evaluating clinical trial implementation processes to assess acceptability and sustainability in practice.
Since 2014, Prof Blackwood has been President of the European federation of Critical Care Nursing associations. She is also an Editor for the Cochrane Emergency and Critical Care group.