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Case study: Your Path in Research - Helen Clough, Research Nurse

Case study: Helen Clough

Helen Clough is a Community Research Nurse in the Clinical Research Network South West Peninsula’s Agile Research Delivery Team. Here she explains why she enjoys working in health and care research.

Q: How did you become involved in health and care research?
A: My first research post was for Cambridge University working as a Community Research Midwife on a commercially funded trial - a randomised controlled trial of the telemetric management of high blood pressure in pregnancy - home versus hospital management.

Q: Why did you get involved in research?
A: I wanted the academic challenge, to work more autonomously and to improve healthcare.

Q: What do you enjoy about working in health and care research?
A: I enjoy supporting a variety of different trials, working with great colleagues, interacting with participants and playing my part in research.

Q: How can research benefit/add to your career?
A: I have had a varied career. I began as a Registered General Nurse and then a Registered Midwife following on to spend the next 10 years as Community Research Nurse/ Midwife working on commercial randomised paediatric nutrition trials in Cambridgeshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire. My research experience helped me gain many skills and I was able to diversify, working for five years as a Cancer Genetic Nurse Counsellor at the Leicester Royal Infirmary.  I then helped set up the Somerset Bowel Screening Service. I was lucky enough to return to what I enjoyed most and I have worked within the CRN as a Research Nurse for the last 11 years.

Q: Why do you think health and care research is important?
A: Health research is important to society. It can improve care by discovering new treatments or by using them in a different way. New public health interventions can make a huge difference to people's lives. Knowledge through research can change the way health professionals work and can improve the quality of life for patients and the public.

Q: What are your hopes for your career in research?
A: The research landscape in primary care is changing in many ways. We have many challenges ahead in trying to offer research to underserved communities and this will be interesting and stimulating for me.

Q: Why is it important more people become involved in delivering health and care research?
A: It is important because the bigger the research workforce, the more research can be completed. Often new staff bring new visions, ideas and new skills with them.

Q: What impacts have you seen research make in health and care?
A: In the 1990s I worked on paediatric randomised trials researching growth, energy expenditure/and brain development in preterm and small for gestational age infants. I think that early research looking at the above and the composition of breast milk and formula milk helped develop the early breast milk replacement feeds.

Q: What would you say to someone thinking of starting a career in research?
A: Be brave and take the leap, you can contribute and play a part in research for the benefit of wider society.