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Case study: AHP Campaign: Ellie Tanner on the value of AHPs in south London research

Ellie Tanner on the value of AHPs in south London research

We are putting Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) working in research in the spotlight as part of a Pan-London National Institute for Health and Care Research Clinical Research Network (CRN) campaign, which includes CRN North Thames, CRN South London, CRN North West London and CRN Kent, Surrey and Sussex. This month, we spoke to Ellie Tanner, a trained paramedic working for the NIHR Clinical Research Network South London as a Clinical Research Practitioner at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

How did you first get involved in research?

I first got involved in research as a student paramedic. During my clinical practice, I was always a keen observer of where improvements could be made. From this, I wrote a research abstract discussing how thorough mental health assessments can be incorporated into the higher education health sciences curriculum. I fell in love with research whilst writing this, and I was able to present my abstract at the College of Paramedic International Education Conference. My passion for the clinical research world has only grown since then.

What has been the highlight of your research career so far?

As silly as it may seem, the highlight of my research career was the first time I saw my name listed as an author on a published research article. Seeing my name on that paper reminds me of how my contributions are aiding the clinical world to become a better place for staff and patients.

What skills do you think are needed for a career in research?

I don’t think I can give a specific answer to this question as there are so many different roles in research, and I feel every clinician could transfer beneficial skills into these roles. Like anything in the clinical realm, you need to have a passion for helping others and bettering the lives of those you help.

Why do you believe research is important?

Every legislation and guideline in health and social care comes from research, whether the lived experience of people or through a clinical trial. Research allows us to pick out the injustices, inequalities and, at times, the failings of health and social care to improve the services we all access at one point in our lives. Research is pivotal to shaping a brighter and healthier future. Without research, we couldn’t find cures for diseases, medications to improve quality of life or new ways to practise that leave staff with a higher level of satisfaction and improve patient safety. There is always room for improvement in health and social care, we can always do better, and research allows us to prove how it can be done.

What are your plans and ambitions for the future?

I will always be a clinical academic. I continue to practise clinically; my clinical practice first ignited my love for research. I plan to become a methodologist specialising in clinical mental health research with a sub-focus on forensic research and the relationship between forensic environments and ill mental health. I would love to be able to specialise clinically within mental health practice and become an advanced paramedic. As an emergency clinician and researcher, I am strongly interested in emergency care in clinical practice and research. I love to learn and would like to complete both these goals through various postgraduate studies and one day be able to do a PhD.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I say this a lot, but I will say it again, the voices of AHPs are often not heard in spaces largely occupied by doctors and nurses, but the voices of AHPs bring about key insights into their areas of practice that are so important for the research community! Health and social care research often touches on many realms of the healthcare system, and AHPs have advanced insight within these areas. The AHP is an umbrella term for a plethora of roles. This advanced and diverse skill set is such a wonderful thing and something I am very proud to be a part of the AHP community as a paramedic.

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