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Case study: What is a Practice Manager Research Champion?

Ella's Story

Hello my name is Ella Thompson. I have been a Practice Manager in Dudley for the last 14 years and for the last four years I have also been working with the NIHR CRN West Midlands as their Practice Manager Research Champion (PMRC).

When I joined my current practice (The Ridgeway Surgery)  in 2013 I was keen to engage them in research, alongside a newly recruited salaried GP.  Between us we take sole ownership for research within the practice and both of us enjoy having a separate role from our usual primary care activity.  As study involvement is well supported by the CRN team, it adds little to our workload and it is a positive experience to be involved with various important research studies.  Many of our patients enjoy engaging with research projects; often it can lead to very positive feelings of self-worth for those involved who feel they are giving something back.  It’s also viewed positively by the CQC.

So when the CRN advertised for a PMRC I applied, hoping I could maybe give something back and encourage Practice Management colleagues to also become research active.  The CRN was keen to increase the engagement of GP practices with NIHR CRN Portfolio of research.  The role required me to work alongside their team of GP Research Champions and with members of the CRN team to raise awareness of opportunities to participate in primary care research (especially research delivery in day-to-day practice).  

The post was intended to facilitate strengthening of links between Practice Managers, GPs and the CRN primary care speciality delivery team, as well as with university-based primary care research teams.  The requirement was to predominantly raise awareness of the Clinical Research Network’s High Level Objectives (HLOs) and support the Primary Care delivery team to achieve these.

I have found the role very rewarding and have successfully increased the amount of practices engaging in research in Dudley, I have also increased Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) involvement with the majority of Dudley practices now signed up to participate.  I attend various meetings in order to help advise the CRN about the practicalities of rolling a study out within general practice.

I was won the Rising Star category at the CRN WM Awards two years ago, for which I am very grateful.  The CRN team is a lovely group of people, very supportive and friendly and I have very much enjoyed being a small part of their world and helping in any way I can.

If you are interested in becoming involved with research but would like a one to one conversation about it first, to get a real feel for what is involved and if it is for you and your practice, please feel free to ring me on 01902 886501 or email