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Case study: Holly Lovell on the value of midwives in south London research

Meet Holly Lovell, a Clinical Research Midwife at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

We are putting Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions (NMAHP) 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 Holly Lovell, a Clinical Research Midwife at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

How did you first get involved in research?

When doing both my nursing and midwifery training, I enjoyed doing my dissertations, which were to design a research proposal. I was interested in the potential of research and wanted to become more involved in research at some point in my career. After working in various clinical roles, I saw a job advert for a clinical research midwife, and it was the right time in my career to give it a go.

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

I felt privileged to be involved in a trial which developed a new test for pre-eclampsia, a potentially serious complication in pregnancy. The results were incorporated into national guidelines, improving care for many women. This experience motivated me to see the value of our work.

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

The skills needed to be a midwife are not hugely different to those required to have a career in midwifery research. In both roles, having compassion, effective communication skills and advocating for women are key, alongside the importance of excellent time management and attention to detail. You use these in both roles but in different contexts.

Why do you believe research is important?

I am passionate about the potential of research to improve care and reduce health inequalities. New treatments, interventions, or identifying causes of problems or diseases would not be possible without research. Research must be incorporated alongside clinical care, allowing equal access for all.

What are your plans and ambitions for the future?

I am currently undertaking a PhD to explore how we can improve representation and inclusion in maternity research. My project will contribute to the broader picture of improving the inclusion of under-served groups in research and, therefore, contribute to reducing healthcare inequalities.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I would love to challenge the myth that you are any less of a nurse or a midwife by working in research. The value that research can add to people's care is sometimes underestimated, and I would love more staff to see research as a career option!

Find out more

More AHP stories and additional resources
Shape the Future — NIHR resources to support research careers