This site is optimised for modern browsers. For the best experience, please use Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.

Case study: International Nurses Day celebrates Research Nurses

Celebrating International Nurses Day

There are pictures of me as a toddler giving out sugar cubes as medicine, and wrapping my family members in toilet paper bandages - so I think it’s safe to say, I always wanted to be a nurse! My grandma wanted to nurse but never had the chance, so she very much encouraged me to go in this direction.

After training, I worked on a general medical ward at the Queen Alexandra hospital and then moved into critical care. I loved giving the absolute best attention and care in a great team atmosphere. It was here I first became involved in research, helping to assess if a drug we were giving for sepsis infections was really beneficial. The result of the trial was very clear - it wasn’t helping, and the drug was no longer authorised for use. This was a real light bulb moment for me. I realised this was the way to really become part of the future of healthcare and help improve outcomes for patients.

Becoming a Research Nurse

I don’t consider myself academic and the word “research” sounds really academic. But when you’re a nurse working in research, you’re still using all your people and communication skills. As nurses, we’re so used to being the lynch pin for your patient - in the ward we hold everything together. As a Research Nurse it’s no different – patient care, and advocating for your patient, is central to the work, and so it fitted very well with me.

As the research world grew, I took on bigger roles. I was soon helping other departments set up their own research teams. This was across surgical, anaesthetics and medicine. We were always seeking to look at ways to support surgical outcomes, and improve patient experience. I was still very hands on with the patients, and having that contact was really important to me. My role continued to grow, and I became one of two Lead Research Nurses at the Trust. All the time we are working to improve health outcomes at grass roots level - focusing on research which leads to earlier discharges, fewer complications and reduces the chances of those patients being readmitted again, because this benefits everyone.

Working during COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was certainly no time lounging about or clearing out my kitchen cupboards! I was tasked with setting up the Portsmouth Research Hub to help with the vaccine roll-out, urgent front line work. This hub was supported by many, including the NIHR Wessex CRN. It was the first to be set up in the community, rather than a hospital setting. It was a completely new way of working for me, asking local people to come in and help us trial the different vaccines. It went really well - our local population has been so supportive. I still find it mind blowing that people are happy to come forward, and really want to help. The pandemic highlighted how crucial research is, and the role it plays in developing the future of healthcare.

Setting the hub up during the pandemic involved a lot of late nights. It was a very busy time, but so worth it. My friends and family used to think working as a research nurse meant I was racing round the hospital with a clipboard, but now there’s a much better understanding of how important this work really is. Historically research nursing might have been done at the end of your career, as a stepping stone to retirement, but now it’s a specialism in its own right and I have seen that change during my own career.

Being a nurse is one of the most amazing jobs in the world, and being a Research Nurse builds on all these skills. People are at the heart of everything I do - I just want to make life better for others, to help people feel happier and healthier. And moving forward, I’d like to find out more about other studies we could run here.