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Case study: The path to becoming a Clinical Research Scholar

By Analisa Smythe

I am a mental health nurse and qualified in 1996. I have worked in research for over 25 years and have undertaken several different roles, gradually transitioning from research nurse to nurse researcher, generating my own high-quality research which focuses on interventions to support the well-being of the nursing workforce.

I currently work three days a week for the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust (RWT) and two days for Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust (BSMHFT).

In 2021 I was awarded a CRN West Midlands Personal Development Award. This award provided funding for two years, one day per week at BSMHFT. As part of the award, I was encouraged to identify a mentor and I reached out to Professor Annie Topping, Head of School at the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Birmingham. The opportunity to network with Professor Topping has been invaluable, particularly as most recently my research has focused on international nurses.

Professor Topping kindly offered to critically review and co-author an integrative literature review focusing on support for nurses who have trained outside of their country of employment.

I was invited by Professor Topping and colleagues to support the Pre-Doc interviews for 2022 and the forthcoming interviews in 2023. This has given me an insight into the Birmingham Health Partners (BHP) Fellowships opportunities and enabled me to offer support for colleagues who may be considering applying for the awards.

The award has afforded many opportunities over the last two years, too many to mention! A few include the opportunity to join the NIHR Reviewer scheme, access to the Scholar’s site, regular Scholars meetings, and networking opportunities with research colleagues at Keele University. The award has also enabled me to continue developing links with Birmingham City University, and I have recently applied for visiting fellow status.

I have also had the opportunity to support others and have developed a Multi-Professional Research Peer Support Group (MPRPSG). The group meets bi-monthlyand aims to offer peer support for colleagues who are involved or interested in research.

Most recently I was delighted to be appointed to the Clinical Research Scholar post. I am hoping that an output of the award will be securing NIHR funding for research focusing on improving the well-being of the workforce, which is particularly topical at the moment.

I can be contacted on