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Case study: Your Path in Research - Dr Lucy Connolly

Dr Lucy Connolly is Anaesthetic Clinical Fellow at Medway NHS Foundation Trust in Kent, and recently took part in the NIHR Associate Principal Investigator Scheme.

When did you first get involved in research?

My first experience with a research project was as an Emergency Department registrar in 2015. There were numerous exciting studies running in our department and I was involved in identifying patients who met the criteria for inclusion in the study.

Why did you decide to get involved?

Evidence-based medicine is at the heart of everything we do. It became easier to understand why we do things when I learnt more about the processes involved in developing new treatments or guidance.

What has been the highlight of your research career so far?

Earlier this year I took on the role of Associate Principal Investigator for a multi-centre national study. It was hard work but I was thrilled when, through brilliant team work, we were able to recruit well over our expected number of patients. It was a really great feeling knowing that our department was contributing so much to this study.

Why do you believe research is important?

The world of medicine is always changing, and therefore it is unrealistic to think that treatments or processes in patient care that were best practice even 10 years ago may still be the best for our patients. We can only bring about change by continually questioning ourselves, and a research project (in its most basic form) is exactly that - asking a question, proposing an answer, and then finding evidence to support or refute that answer.

What do you love about your job?

The life of an anaesthetic registrar is incredibly varied. We meet patients on their best and worst days, and the choices we make in treating our patients have a direct impact on outcomes. Within anaesthetics there are opportunities to develop additional interests, and for me participation in research is becoming a regular part of the job.

Would you recommend research as a career to others?

In every speciality within medicine research is key to continually advancing and improving care for our patients. I would strongly recommend all junior doctors participate in at least one research project during their training to be part of this change, and understand why we do what we do. Hopefully then they will take this interest into their consultant careers!

What are your plans and ambitions for the future?

As I progress through my anaesthetic training I am sure I will continue to participate in research, and hopefully in the role of Principal Investigator. If plans work out I will take my interest in research with me into the pre-hospital environment too.