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Case study: Q&A: Uche Nwanguma - Clinical Research Practitioner Engagement Lead

Q&A: Uche Nwanguma

Uche Nwanguma is a Clinical Research Practitioner (CRP) at the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) North West London. Here she answers questions about her career so far and her new role as CRP Engagement Lead.


What path did you take to get into research?

I am a graduate of Chemistry and hold two post graduate degrees (Master of Science) in:

  • Pharmaceutical Chemistry
  • Clinical and Experimental Medicine (Specialist in Drug Discovery) UCL.

My research journey started whilst in the university, and was driven by a passion for medicinal chemistry, a branch of chemistry that explores natural products at molecular level and their role in synthesis of pharmaceutical drugs.

My first research experience was as a work placement undergraduate student, at the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) in Nigeria.

On joining the NHS, I progressed through a variety of clinical settings and departments before getting into research.

Prior to my present role, I was a Research Coordinator for the Ophthalmology Department at Barts Health NHS Trust.


What is your role in research now?

I am a registered Clinical Research Practitioner and currently work as part of the core research delivery team (strategic workforce) for the CRN North West London.


What is the role of a CRP in research?

CRP is an acronym for Clinical Research Practitioner and broadly refers to a family of professionals (e.g. clinical trial officers, research coordinators) within the research delivery workforce, with duty of care to trial participants.

The CRP role is diverse and includes defined clinical responsibilities and skills (within the boundaries of health and social care research delivery) and trial administration.

CRPs are highly valuable and key members of the research delivery workforce, with diverse research knowledge, skills and expertise.

They are not nurses, but work to complement research nurses and other healthcare professionals to deliver safe and high quality research.


What inspired you to become a registered CRP?

It was an opportunity for personal and professional development. An accredited status reflects high quality service delivery, standardised practice and accountability.

The CRP role had a need for growth, development, recognition and professional identity. The scope and standard of practice needed to be defined to ensure safe practice.

"I am positive about the role and look forward to engaging and supporting CRPs and their managers through the accreditation process."


What do you feel are the benefits of being a registered CRP?

By being registered, we are recognised as autonomous and accountable professionals capable of making decisions within the boundaries of research delivery.

We have a professional identity, governed by a set of standards and behaviours. The results are:

  • High quality research delivery
  • Increased trust and confidence in our practice
  • Standardised practice of clinical research
  • Improved patient safety
  • Networking with peers and career opportunities
  • Leadership


What would you say to someone who was considering becoming a registered CRP?

Ensure you have access to all registration information via the CRP website and familiarise yourself with it.

Reflect on your practices and the process of building your portfolio. The evidence you need is in your everyday practice, so take note and seek feedback.

The accreditation process requires time and energy but you will find it rewarding and worth your while, at the end. Being registered is evidence of continuous growth and development in your profession and reflects competence in your practice.


What are you looking forward to in your role as CRP Engagement Lead?

I look forward to:

  • Supporting the growth and development of CRPs via the accreditation process
  • Being a visible advocate, raising awareness and promoting the uptake of professional registration for CRPs
  • Promoting visibility of CRPs, including in leadership roles
  • Driving engagement with development of the CRP role
  • Using the opportunity to further practice and develop leadership skills


How do you envisage your role as a CRP Engagement Lead?

I am not sure yet how this will fit around my primary assignment in research delivery (in view of time and flexibility) but I am positive about the role and look forward to engaging and supporting CRPs and their managers through the accreditation process.