International Day of Women and Girls in Science: "The community is a very special place."
Laura Jeffers, a community research nurse, is looking to meet more of her peers in the North Thames region and nationally.
In this piece, Laura discusses her passion for research and how evidence-based practice is key to service improvement.
A lot of people think I’ve either been a nurse or in research for ages – but actually I’m not that experienced, and you don’t need masses of experience to develop a career in research if you’re passionate about making change.
I qualified from the University of Edinburgh in June 2021. After finishing in June, I moved to London in September of that year. A faster pace of life suits me and I felt London would offer me that.
My first exposure to clinical research came back when I was a student nurse in Edinburgh working in a renal (kidney) unit, where I got involved with recruiting patients to the RECOVERY trial into treatments for people hospitalised with COVID-19.
At that stage, because we were in the midst of a pandemic, everyone just wanted to help because we knew nothing about combating the virus. In the case of research, people know that they are doing a good thing even if the results aren’t always positive.
After I moved to London, I did a year as part of a district nursing team as a staff nurse before I moved into community clinical research at Whittington Health NHS Trust.
One thing I’m passionate about is reducing hospital admissions as a way of people retaining their independence. The NHS Long Term Plan talks about people living independently and research has to be a part of that.
The community is a very special place. It’s a very real privilege to go into somebody’s home - most people I see aren’t in hospital - and you get a real holistic view when you see someone in their home, as they are more comfortable there and more open to sharing who they really are.
I have met a few community research nurses and I’ve been trying to understand the challenges that they have. In time, I would like to recruit to trials in schools, care homes and people’s own homes - I’ve been chatting to people in their own homes and am working on getting some studies open that will recruit in these settings.
One of my most important feelings is that we shouldn’t see research as an ‘add-on’. We talk about evidence-based practice all the time, but are we doing it? If we don’t try to change anything, then patient practice won’t improve.
I sometimes struggle to engage community teams - my role is new, so they do not know what to expect from me.
I would like to start building a culture that has research embedded in it among community and district teams. Staff need to see research as something positive, so I would like to see what other members of my peer group are doing in this respect.
If you would like to get in touch with Laura, please email: email@example.com
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.