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Case study: A passion for change - Lynda's story

International Nurses Day - 12 May

Lynda Wagstaff, a Research Matron with the CRN West Midlands, is very proud to be working in the Delivery Support Team (DST), managing multiple teams and supporting colleagues with service delivery. She also works with the Networks' Clinical Professional Lead and a second Matron to ensure quality and equity of service to all the Network's Partner Organisations.

Lynda has worked in clinical research for 21 years. She said: "I had only ever met one research nurse in my previous nursing career but she made a big impression on me. I can't say that because of that encounter, I always wanted to be a research nurse, but I had thought about her many times over the following years.

"A bit like I never really wanted to be a nurse either when I was growing up. I kind of went into research because when I saw the advert, it literally stood up off the page. It  allowed me to work part time when I had a young family so it ticked all the boxes. Little did I know that the advert would define my career path for the next two decades plus!

"I have loved research, like nursing, ever since then. The logic, the organisational skills, the attention to detail and the passion involved in delivering treatments that potentially impact future care, are all the reasons I love it more now than I ever did.

"It has made me continue to want to develop my expertise in this field. I often hear Nurses say they worry about becoming deskilled if they go into research. Can I say research is as important a specialism as every other discipline. You become upskilled in a different way. We are a specialism in our own right. We might hover around in clinics or in corridors but for the most valid of reasons, to offer opportunities to participants. You can't get much better than that."

Over the years Lynda has worked on a large portfolio of oncology studies which made clinical outcomes for patients better and improved survival or disease progression. 

She has also worked on, for example rheumatology, ITU and surgical studies to name just a few, but she adds: "The highlight has to be Covid trials and the visible accelerated difference these trials made globally. I have worked on observational as well as large randomised controlled trials and I acted as Principal Investigator almost since I started as a research nurse, which was rare even then.

"These days things are much more complex and some trial teams are reluctant to allow non medics although thankfully some still do and I would always encourage non medics if they have the opportunity to consider this additional role to their day to day job and begin to see it as part of their day job.

On the importance of research, Lynda said: "All treatments and devices in the UK have to go through rigorous testing and various clinical trial phases before they become standard of care, but prior to that they undergo stringent multiple approvals processes and that assures us that what is being used in healthcare on a day to day basis is safe, effective and ethical. Research offers opportunities for participants to make a difference for all.

"A great research nurse is someone who is inquisitive,logical and very organised.They have to be able to think on their feet and be a responsive communicator, but above all someone with a passion for change and who actually loves working with people.

"I have nursed for nearly 40 years and on International Nurses Day I want to say I wouldn't change any single one moment of my career, as I am who I am because of it. Never have regrets and always learn and move forward."