Being part of a team and working well with others was a key part of the research delivery role for the nurses, midwives and allied health professionals (NMAHPs) we spoke to*. Building and maintaining relationships was important, with communication being fundamental to this. For some people, like Rachel Y, the teamwork needed in research was similar to the teamwork they were familiar with from their clinical work*. Some people described their roles as being ‘a bridge’ between various individuals and groups. Although there was sometimes overlap between these groups, the main working relationships broadly described were with:
- research colleagues (including Principal Investigators (PIs), Chief Investigators (CIs), staff at study centres and fellow research NMAHPs);
- clinical (non-research) colleagues and administrative staff (including other NMAHPs, consultants, GPs, care home staff, and appointment booking staff); and
- line-managers, mentors and supervisors.
When research NMAHPs first started in these jobs, the different individuals and teams could be very confusing. Alice recalled feeling this way ‘and then the GCP [Good Clinical Practice] training helped me understand who was responsible for what, and what are the differences within the different roles’. Paul saw research as being about working together: ‘we need our admin workers, we need our support workers, we need our volunteers, we need our patients, we need our researchers, we need our clinical trials assistants, we need our sponsors and we need our managers. Because if you take any one of them away, your cog is going to not work as well’.
Most studies had a research team which included CIs (Chief Investigators), PIs (Principal Investigators), study centres and fellow research NMAHPs, but also other individuals and groups too; there were different views on who was or was not considered part of ‘the team’. Graham described there being good dynamics in the research teams he had been part of, which included statisticians, health economists, methodologists and clinicians: ‘people are interested in what we [paramedics] have to say but we can also learn a lot from all of them’.
However, based on their experiences, some people were cautious about the notion of ‘teamwork’ in research. A few people felt that there was a divide between research NMAHPs delivering studies and wider research teams. In Ella’s experience, research nurses like herself were excluded from publication writing and acknowledgements, and she felt ‘taken for granted’. More generally, maintaining relationships with others was not always straightforward and could be challenging at times.
*The people interviewed for this website were mostly research NMAHPs (i.e. those employed in a research delivery role). However, we also interviewed some NMAHP researchers (i.e. those leading research as independent researchers). The latter group included people who were undertaking or had completed academic research qualifications, such as PhDs, and many had previously been in (or continued to also be in) research delivery roles. For more information about the distinctions between these roles and the sample of NMAHPs interviewed for this project, please see the Introduction section.
*Many research NMAHPs and NMAHP researchers felt strongly that they continued to be clinical within their research roles. As such, the wording of ‘research’ NMAHPs/staff and ‘clinical’ NMAHPs/staff can be problematic for implying that research is not also clinical activity. Where the wording ‘clinical staff’ is used on the website, we mean for this refer to non-research clinical staff (i.e. those who are not currently employed to carry out research or enrolled to pursue research through an academic qualification).