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Case study: Consultant Anaesthetist shares what still excites him about working in research after 10 years

"An exciting thing about research is it’s always evolving."

“My research journey started when I was doing my anaesthetic and intensive care medicine (ICM) training about 10 to 12 years ago. I was a trainee doing lots of audit and quality improvement work which I was enjoying. I saw other people doing anaesthesia research around me and I wanted to be part of it. I was ready to take things further and help to try to answer the questions that we didn’t know the answers to at that time. The timing of this linked with the creation of the Local Trainee Research Networks and I became a member of the STAR (Severn Trainee Anaesthetic Research) Trainee Research Group as it was formed. This really helped to advance my career in research.

“I think in general, there is a lack of awareness of just how important anaesthetists are. A lot of the work we do isn’t that visible and isn’t pushed publicly as much as other research specialities. But anaesthetists serve a very important role and do an awful lot in the background to make sure that surgeries and various other procedures are done safely.

“Being part of a team that is at the forefront of furthering our knowledge and hopefully improving patient outcomes in anaesthesia and ICM is very important to me. There is still an awful lot we don’t know in terms of anaesthesia and a lot of questions that still need answers. We will hopefully have more answers to these questions due to ongoing NIHR CRN Portfolio studies.

“Every study is different and runs differently. I enjoy aspects of all of them, whether that’s acting as local Principal Investigator, or having general oversight with my NIHR CRN WE Local Specialty Research Lead (LSRL) role. There’s lots to enjoy about my job and I get to work with a wide range of people on a weekly basis. In general, it’s great to know that being in a research active department is associated with better patient outcomes.

"An exciting thing about research is it’s always evolving. There have been a number of recent advances in anaesthesia and ICM research around study design, which might sound a bit dry but is hugely important! We’re looking at more cost-efficient studies and platform and adaptive studies. All of these study designs came to the forefront during the COVID-19 pandemic, and have made a huge change in how we conduct research and how we get the answers to the questions we want. I hope we will continue to see these study designs in anaesthesia and ICM research.

“If you are interested in getting involved in research, I would say go for it, you will enjoy it! After being research active for the last 10 years or so I would highly recommend it. There are lots of different pathways into research, both academic and non-academic. Equally, for allied health professionals and other clinical staff, there are again lots of different routes to getting involved in research. I would always recommend contacting your local NIHR CRN who will be able to point you in the right direction.

“Another tip would be to find a mentor, formal or informal. If you know someone who you get on with who is research active, ask them questions and take their advice! In my experience, people who have a mentor have always done well in research. Finally, just as I did, get involved with your local trainee research network. They are a great resource for advice and there are always ongoing opportunities to take part in research via those networks.”

Interested in finding out more about Anaesthesia and Critical Care research in the West of England, as well as the opportunity to network and develop your connections? Sign up to attend our free in-person event on Tuesday 16 May 2023.

To find out more about a career in research, visit Your Path in Research.