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Case study: Celebrating International Nurses Day with Clair Favager

Senior research nurse Clair Favager tells us about how she discovered research and her career specialising in respiratory and immunology.

As we celebrate International Nurses Day, Senior Research Nurse Clair Favager tells us about her role and how she first got involved in research.

How did you first get involved in research? 

As a Junior Staff Nurse, I came across the occasional patient on a research study because we had to document extra timings or assessments for the purpose of the study.  I hate to admit now but I didn’t really give much thought to the work behind the study.

When working as a Junior Sister on a respiratory ward, I was struggling with the work life balance of managing a busy ward and having two young children at home. The Respiratory Research Nurse approached me and asked if I had ever thought about joining research.  My initial response was ‘that sounds so boring’.  This was purely down to me not understanding the role. However, once I found out more, I applied for the job. Luckily, I got the job and have never looked back. 

During Covid I volunteered to join the Covid Research Team.  This was very challenging on all levels, but it was during this time I also realised that one of my specialities was now research, and the skills I had developed in respiratory research were actually transferable to other disease areas. I am now a Senior Research Nurse managing a team of nine and a portfolio specialising in Respiratory and Immunology.

I also realised that one of my specialities was now research

What do you enjoy about research?  

I enjoy the variety that the role brings and the different studies.  It is a totally different kind of nursing but remains very much so patient centred. It is rewarding to know that you are making a difference not just to the patients on your studies but to future care and treatment.  This was especially evident with the Covid trials contributing to finding treatments to manage the virus.  The rapport you get with your patients is something that you just don’t have time for on the ward. 

On the flip side of this, I enjoy screening databases and answering data queries all with the common goal of improving options for patients.  I love that I am constantly learning, investigating and asking questions. 

The rapport you get with your patients is something that you just don’t have time for on the ward.

What training and support have you found most valuable in your career

For me, peer and manger support has been the most valuable. We can all learn so much from each other.  Research & Innovation at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is a very supportive place to work.  The research academy and NIHR Learn has been very helpful too.

We can all learn so much from each other

What are your top three tips for somebody starting out in research?

1, Give it time - it took me a long time to settle. It is a very different role.

2, There are plenty of courses to go on but they shouldn’t be just a tick box.  Revisit them again once you have a bit of experience of the role - they will mean so much more.

3, NIHR Learn is an amazing tool with lots of information.

4, Sorry, a fourth silly one - lots of notebooks!