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My Story as a Research Nurse

It is important that when we talk about nurses, we need to go beyond the “traditional” roles. Yes, nurses are on the frontlines, but they are also advancing health and safety as researchers, advocates, leaders, innovators, and communicators. It is very timely that 2020 marks the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife - an opportunity to highlight the essential role of nurses and midwives around the world.

Read the story of one of our fellow Filipino nurses who is thriving as a Research Nurse in the UK.

I am Lloyd, a life-long advocate and a full-time Nurse. I moved to the UK in December 2017. I first worked in a Coronary Care Unit and Cath Lab before landing a role as a Clinical Research Nurse/Research Coordinator last January 2020.

My personal life experiences fundamentally shaped my interest in research and public health, addressing inequalities, injustices, and stigma as I witnessed first hand the ills of the public healthcare systems.

Why Research?

Growing up in the Philippines, I have always been curious why my family and the Filipinos, in general, do not have the same level of technology and healthcare that they have in the 1st world countries like the UK. Then, I realised that for us to achieve this high-quality standard of healthcare, it has to start with good and rigorous research.

Research is the future of healthcare. The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly shown the ongoing need for scientific and health research. We see in the news that clinical trials are ongoing for us to find the right cure & vaccine to combat this deadly virus. It is vital that we harness our research capabilities to limit the outbreak and protect life.

What does it mean to be a Research Nurse?

To be a research nurse means having the privilege and responsibility to better understand certain diseases, including treatments, diagnostic tests, and real-time collection of samples and data from people undergoing treatment in hospitals. We are doing this closely with government research authorities, the academe, and of course, our patients.

In simple terms, my role as a Clinical Research Nurse is bridging the gap between research data and patients. I manage a variety of clinical research trials within the world-renowned hospitals in London. I am in-charge of coordinating studies across three acute hospital sites and trusts in the UK.

My role involves designing research studies, identifying, informing & screening appropriate patients, collecting & analysing data, and disseminating results. Also, as a research nurse, I am responsible for protecting patients in the trials, keeping them safe and maintaining the rigors of a clinical trial protocol. I take patients’ consent for certain studies and see them in our clinic for follow-ups throughout their involvement in research. Research Nursing ties together good clinical science with good patient care.

What is it like to be on the frontline of a pandemic?

The past few weeks few weeks have been unlike anything we have known or could have imagined. All the regular research studies were suspended to give space for the COVID-19 research. Our typical day would still involve following the same processes and protocols but solely focused on COVID-19. But due to the need of the current times, we are in an immense pressure to deliver and have to work against limited time and resources. This pandemic has not only presented to us challenges but also harsh realities on our health care system, including socio-economic issues. Through my job, I am seeing that this COVID-19 pandemic is not simply a health problem. It's more than it meets the eye.

What’s in it for you as a Research Nurse?

As a research nurse, I learned how to be more organised and how to effectively communicate not just to patients in the clinical trials but also with other members of the research and multidisciplinary team. Strong project management skills & resilience are also key in this job. Research nurses work independently— we manage our own time and workload. Even with this autonomy, it is expected that we deliver the high-quality results.

Aside from my strong passion on research & development & the skills I am able to develop through this role, I am driven to do my job well because of the career opportunities available. Few of my fellow research nurses are now Clinical Nurse Specialists. Some of them are also research PhD candidates working in highly-specialised areas and playing key roles in the WHO and UN. Their stories inspire me to do my best and become better at my profession.

If you want to jump start your research career and have an edge with other applicants, you can start doing free online courses offered by UK’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) or websites like FutureLearn.

Take it one step at a time, continuously seek to elevate knowledge and amplify critical questions in healthcare. Make sure you have a good understanding of the clinical research process and Good Clinical Practice (GCP) in you are in the UK.

Research is key for a better future in healthcare. For the nurses and future nurses out there, if you want to be part of creating a better future for the world, consider Research Nursing.

About the Writer:

Lloyd is at the exciting intersection of advocacy, research, and policy. As an active young citizen, and as a Nurse passionate about Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and social justice, Lloyd engaged in a lot of advocacy work from grassroots to international levels in recognising various structural and systemic barriers to people accessing healthcare services in whatever context. He is a part-time MSc Public Heath student at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and an Advisory Group member of Civil Society Engagement Mechanism for UHC2030 (CSEM UHC2030). He also tweets at @itsjustLLOYD

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