Christine has been a research nurse for two and a half years. She is based in a generic research team but has a special interest in paediatric care and research. She enjoys the work and wishes she had known about the research nurse role earlier.
Before becoming a research nurse, Christine had been a clinical nurse for nearly 35 years, with 12 years in the private sector. She was thinking about leaving nursing as she felt frustrated by the role and found the shift patterns were negatively affecting her quality of life. By chance, a friend suggested she might enjoy working in research and, in a way, she feels the role found m. Christine was initially put off because she thought she would need to have a nursing degree and possibly a Master’s. However, she looked into the role more, and liked the idea that she would have more time for patients and would be helping improve care in the future. Christine was a bit unsure about going into a fixed-term contract but also saw it as a bit of a get out of jail free; car in case she didn’t like the job. She has been in post now for two and half years, and expects that her contract will be made permanent in another six months.
The first 12 months in post were a massive learning curv for Christine. Someone gave her an academic paper about going from an expert; to a novice; when changing professional roles, and this really resonated with Christine. She worried about whether she was doing things correctly and it meant getting to grips with unfamiliar abbreviations. She was also new to the Trust and had to learn about how it worked. Christine found her research team were very supportive and she had lots of training; she didn’t feel pressured to instantly understand the very different worl of research. Christine gradually built up confidence and, after a year, could reflect back on how far she had progressed. She has dealt with some difficult situations but feels it is important to never be afraid to as if you;re not sure what to do and, each time, she has learnt something new.
Christine has worked on many different studies, including on diabetes, eczema and asthma. Some studies are focused on adults but paediatric research is the area that Christine is most passionate about. Her role has involved identifying potential participants, recruiting, collecting data, and doing follow-ups. There is also a lot of paperwork and inputting data. Christine finds that each day is differen and she has to carefully plan her time. As her skills and confidence have grown, she has felt more able to take on more studies and other tasks – such as setting up studies. A major challenge for Christine in her role has been a lack of available space in the hospital for research activities, meaning she often has to beg, steal and borro it, although good working relationships with clinical colleagues can help.
Christine thinks research nurses should be optimistic, organised, methodical, a good listene and able to get on with different people. She feels it is important to develop a rapport in even relatively brief research encounters, so that participants know their contribution is valued. Likewise, for participants who are on the placebo arm of a study, Christine says the data is important because we need both sides of the coin to tell us what is bes. For Christine, it is important that research nurses working with children have their assent and tread carefully, taking everything step-by-step. She has found that sometimes parents are very keen that their child take part in the research, but Christine feels it is her job to give the child the choice – especially if the child is a well; volunteer and the study involves something that might hurt or frighten them (such as having blood samples taken).
Christine likes that she has other research staff in her team that she can talk to and seek advice from. She feels that having a line manager who is very active and enthusiastic about researc is important, and that this passes down to the tea. Christine has also made connections with other research nurses regionally – including those who specialise in paediatrics. Christine plans to continue building on her skills and experiences in research nursing, and to be involved in raising the profile of paediatrics [research. She wishes she had known about research nursing sooner, particularly as she thinks it would have been ideal when her children were younger, and she could have already established herself as a research nurse by now. Christine’s key message to research nurses who are relatively new is to stick with it and speak to your colleagues, because they know how it feel when adjusting to the role.