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Case study: "When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, my role dramatically changed"

Your Path in Research: Rebecca's story

This year's Your Path in Research campaign is all about sharing and celebrating some of the fascinating careers available in research.

We spoke to Rebecca Woodington, Clinical Trial Coordinator at the Bristol Eye Hospital (BEH), part of University Hospitals Bristol and Weston Foundation Trust (UHBW), to find out more about her journey in research.

“I originally started my research journey back in 2017 at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth as a Research and Innovation Facilitator. Here I supported doctors and nurses to develop and shape their own research studies and get the appropriate approvals needed in order to run them. I also had the opportunity to help develop new innovations for the hospital which would help improve patient care and processes. As well as this, I was heavily involved in promoting research across the hospital through their social media channels and newsletters. This subsequently led to my role with the NIHR Clinical Research Network West of England (CRN WE).

“At the CRN WE, I was initially involved in raising awareness about research and helping to organise events. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, my role dramatically changed. I was redeployed to help with the COVID-19 vaccine studies where I would help recruit participants to be involved in the trials. This is where I got my first taste of working on a trial and the experience is what led me to my current job at BEH.

“As a Clinical Trial Coordinator at BEH, part of my role involves the set up of ophthalmic studies. I make sure that our department has the capability and capacity to run the studies at our site. Once the studies have opened I work with the ophthalmologists, optometrists and research nurses to recruit and screen patients onto our studies. One highlight for me has been my team achieving first UK patient for one of the studies I helped coordinate.

“Since starting this role last year, I’ve gained an understanding of just how much work goes into running a research trial. From the initial set-up stages and discussions with the Trust’s Research and Innovation team, right through to collaborative teamwork with staff across all disciplines including imaging, pharmacy and other trial coordinators.

“My role at BEH is also patient facing as I help to lead clinics for the numerous studies that we run. Since starting my role, I have learnt how to do vital signs, venepuncture and ECGs to name a few (a world away from my previous office roles!). I also enjoy meeting all of our patients and getting to know them, as without their time and commitment, we would not have new treatments or processes to improve patient care for the future.”

Interested in finding out more about a career in research? Find out more at Your Path in Research.