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International Nurses Day: My research role during the COVID-19 pandemic - Emma Gendall

International Nurses Day: My research role during the COVID-19 pandemic - Emma Gendall
Today marks International Nurses Day, and we want to take this opportunity to thank the incredible research nurses working in the West of England for their great work.
With the recent focus on COVID-19 research, we spoke with Emma Gendall, Senior Research Nurse – Acute Care at Southmead Hospital to find out how the pandemic has affected her role.
Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, I was working as the lead research nurse for Acute Care, line managing a small team and delivering research studies across a range of acute care areas. I was approached early on about leading on the CCP-UK study and worked with my team to put a system in place to identify and capture patients for this research.
As things at our Trust began to get busier the Trust opened a range of COVID-19 research studies, including REMAP-CAP, GenOMICC, RECOVERY, DISCOVER, UKOSS, RECOVERY RS and CCP-UK. It became clear that it was no longer practical to have specific teams recruiting to each study. My line manager Debbie Warbrick (Research Matron) brought the staff remaining in research into one large COVID-19 research team and we began working together to deliver all the studies.
A small team of band 7’s, including myself, were allocated the role of COVID-19 research team coordinators. Our role is to allocate research staff each day, support and empower them to deliver across these studies, take referrals for potential new participants, and deal with queries. Each day starts with preparing the work for the team, briefing the team on workload for the day and other important updates, a second team brief also takes place at lunchtime to plan the afternoon work. Working collaboratively in this way has enabled us to recruit to these important COVID-19 studies. I am also going to the Nightingale Hospital for orientation so that I can help support the team there with research, if and when studies open in the hospital.
This role has challenged me to work in a very different way. I have had to work closely with a variety of research staff who I have not worked with before, gaining their respect and trust to work together. Enhancing my communication skills to deliver team huddles on a larger scale than I am used to with my peers, team members and other colleagues has been a personal challenge I have had to work on. This experience has given me the opportunity to use many of the leadership skills that I learnt on the NIHR Advanced Leadership Programme (ALP), which I was lucky enough to undertake last year, and am grateful for the chance to put this learning into practice. Most of all this experience has brought together a variety of research staff to work as a large team, which has made me more aware of my colleague’s strengths. I plan to continue to draw on and learn from this once the COVID-19 period is over.