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Transcript for Clinical Research Practitioner Webinar 2


Transcript for Clinical Research Practitioner (CRP) Webinar 2

Javier Magan: 

Good afternoon, everyone. I think we're just joining in, I can see the list of participants increasing. Thank you very much for joining this second event of the series of the CRP series, here from Wessex. Apologies, we're starting a couple of minutes late. We just encountered some technical issues to start with, but all good. 

Let's start with some housekeeping of the event. This meeting is being recorded. If you have any problems with that, this is a good time for you to come off and the idea of having it recorded is so you can come back to it at any point and people that were not able to attend will be able to attend at a later date. 

A recording will be made available on the NIHR Learn resource and we'll send communication and instructions on how to access this. 

Also, as you will notice, the chat function is not enabled, so you cannot send any chats but you should be able to contact the hosts in case you encounter any technical issues. So please do get in contact with us. 

We would really encourage you to engage with all the talks that we're going to have today. Please do so by the Q&A section and please post any questions in there. Also make sure that you use the up vote function with the thumbs up. I will try to address as many questions as we can, towards the end of the meeting in the Q&A section. 

If we go on to the next slide, please. 

My name is Javier, I should have introduced myself first and I'm one of the research nurses here at CRN Wessex and I'm going to be chairing this event that will build on the conversations we had last Friday, where there was an overview of why the CRP accreditation was introduced and the National Strategy was discussed. 

If you were not able to attend this meeting, we encourage you to look at this recording once we make it available. But today is all about having a more practical or pragmatic look at the CRPs. It's all about hearing experience accounts from pioneer CRPs within the region and not only within Wessex, but within the UK.

We thought that to start, we will have a reflection from Andrew, who is one of our colleagues here at the CRN. He's a CTA at the moment, but obviously discussing his background, what are his perceived benefits and maybe highlighting some areas that we're still working on within the CRP and why he may be interested in joining in.So, Andrew, over to you.

Andrew Grimshaw: 

That's great. Thank you very much, Javi. Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining us. 

As Javi just said, my name's Andrew Grimshaw. I'm currently a Band 3 CTA with CRN Wessex. I'm based mostly out of the Bournemouth hub but we travel around to different places. I'm actually in Salisbury today.

I've been asked to give my perspective about the CRP pathway and whyI would be interested in it and why probably quite a few of you are potentially interested in registering and completing the pathway and becoming an accredited CRP.

So I'm happy to have been in post just over, about a year. 

Can I have the next slide please? That's great. Thank you. 

I think it's quite important to start off with a caveat from my perspective that there's going to be quite a large spectrum of individuals who are in the call today and are thinking about joining the pathway. 

Now, we may all be called Clinical Trials Assistants or have names, or titles, which are variations on a theme of that. But we, almost certainly, have quite diverse backgrounds. So this perspective today is really a perspective that I've tried to make more general. But at the end of the day, the perspective is solely for my own background, which is academic medical research. 

The perspective is likely to vary according to your own particular background, the knowledge that you have, whether through education or the knowledge that you've gained in post and your career to date.

So, some people might come from a psychology background or more of a data management for trial background, sports sciences, or the more traditional allied healthcare professions that you might know from colleagues in the hospital; radiography, pharmacy, healthcare assistants, so on and so forth. 

And to the same point, the concerns are likely to be concerns that's specific to you and your background in terms of the requirements that you'll need to complete the pathway and what kind of variation you've known in your job role to date. What kind of challenges you may have been exposed to, what kind of challenges you may have been able to get over.

Can I have the next slide, please. 

So just a brief background. As I said, I come from an academic medical research background. I have a first Degree in Pharmacology. I have a strong background in areas of allergy, autoimmunity, pharmacokinetics. So I have an interest in the drugs from a clinical trial perspective from a long time ago. 

I then have a Research Degree in Immunology,pertaining to arthritis. And then subsequent to that I've had in total about a 19 year career in academic research with various publications along the way. 

Something that I often get asked, particularly, is why have you left that career pathway to come to a clinical trial background and start on another pathway. And it was very much a case that I really wanted a change of focus. 

I enjoyed the work that I did but  I had quite a strong desire at this stage of my life to do something that I felt was more vocational and that was going to be emotionally rewarding. That was really quite important to me. Both of my parents had been nurses and came from a nursing background. So I really wanted to do something that was patient facing and if you feel that you can make a difference on the front line, which I would like to think I can do,then this was a good opportunity for me.

Next slide, please. 

So as I said, I've been in post, just over a year at the moment and have completed some of the conventional training that you might expect somebody in that post to date. 

I completed the care certificate at Southampton General Hospital working on a variety of wards, and alongside that have developed clinical skills, which of course, I didn't have previously, like phlebotomy. 

Then, of course, we've been working to the NIHR framework for our understanding of the very important legal framework for clinical trial work and ICH-GCP. 

In terms of looking forward to joining the pathway, and thinking, what is it that I might struggle with, or what is that I'm gonna have to focus on, there's a few areas that I'm quite aware of that I feel may be lacking, or I've had insufficient exposure to date that,

I'm really going to need to liaise with my line manager to work towards. I think certainly more leading study visits, more patient facing opportunities, aspects of consent, taking consent at various stages, and then working with EDGE and other clinical trial databases that we all have to do. Those are certainly things that I know I need to gain additional exposure to.

Next slide, please. 

So why do I think [CRP accredited registration is important], from my perspective? Well, I think the CRP pathway is very important, because obviously a lot of us here don't come from a nursing background. We don't have that nursing accreditation. 

Yet nonetheless, we come from a variety of allied healthcare backgrounds, and it's important that we have a career pathway that's open to us that we can structure a career in this role.

I think that's almost certainly why all of us are here because that's what we want to do, we want to progress along this pathway. 

Not only that but it's an important sense of professional belonging. I think nurses have an extreme sense of professional belonging for obvious reasons. 

But not everyone is frontline, not everyone is called a nurse, there are lots of people in the background working in clinical trials. 

So I think it's an important professional development and professional ownership, that this is what I do. And this is what I'm a part of, I'm a part of something important here. 

Especially, as we've seen post pandemic, clinical trials in the community, in social care settings, they're only going to become more numerous. So I think, certainly much more present to the general population who might have a vague, previously limited awareness of clinical trials that are operating. 

And, again, moving forward you only have to see in the news about people's perceptions about the pandemic, that it's really important that transparency is at the heart of what goes on and the public understand, as best they can, that decisions made at higher levels are evidence based decisions that are taken for the benefit of the population of the country. 

Next slide, please. 

Some of the questions about registration that have sprung to my mind, again, some of you will have more questions, but they're probably on a similar theme, [are] in terms of what is the feedback process once we join the pathway? Do we just liaise with our line manager? Will we be liaising with somebody who is in a central team, in terms of how we are doing? 

And who is giving us this feedback as to where we are and how we've done and other things that we may need to concentrate on? Is there going to be some sort of tutor/pupil dynamic with somebody from NIHR outside of our normal interactions with our line manager? 

Again, what will be the boundaries of expectations? What are the responsibilities? Are they clearly defined for a Band 5 CRP? 

You might be a Band 3 or Band 4, CTA at the moment, and you have a sense of what's expected of you and what you should be knowing, what you should be doing. How will that change when you move to a Band 5 position?  

And again, standards of proficiency? Is it clearly structured, so that we can look at what are things that we should be able to know, able to do for this higher level role. 

I think an important point, that some people might not be aware of, is that there isn't, just because we receive accredited status, hopefully, at some point down the line, that doesn't change our current employment situation at Band 3 or Band 4. We will, almost certainly, have to then look for an advertised Band 5 CRP type position.

One of the questions that I had is that, when we are accredited, if we stay in the current 3 or 4 position that we're in, are we allowed to change our title to Clinical Research Practitioner? 

Do we have any change to the uniform? Just simple things, simple day to day, things like that.

And that sums up my perspective of someone who has been a CTA  for about a year, looking ahead to the pathway and the sorts of things that I might want to be thinking about or might have concerns about.

Okay, Javi?

Javier Magan: 

Thank you very much, Andrew, that was a really valuable reflection. We will make sure that, hopefully, some of those questions that you've posed there are answered through the next few speakers. And if not, we'll make sure that we address them in the Q&A section that will be at the end. But they're really valuable points. 

I'm sure that some if not most of the attendees will have similar questions and lots of other questions.  

As I said, please engage with the chat in the Q&A function, because we'll try to address them after the speakers. 

So now, I've got the pleasure to hand over to Matt Morris, who is one of the pioneers. He is a registered CRP working in a CRP role at UHS, so in Southampton, and he's going to talk a bit about his background and his experience of taking the registration and how this has impacted his role. So over to you, Matt. Thank you.

Matt Morris: 

Hi, everyone. Thank you. My name is Matt. I'm a Clinical Research Practitioner here in Southampton. 

As a prefix, I'm a little under the weather today, so I hope everyone can hear me OK.  

If we move on to the next slide, thank you.

So I've got a Certificate of Higher Education in Biomedicine and a Degree in Psychology, which I did here in Southampton. 

After graduating, I realised I wanted to work face to face with people so I initially went to the retail industry. But I've always wanted to work in healthcare, and especially something patient facing, which is when I discovered research and discovered I could be involved in patient care, get to make a difference. 

It aligns with my personal interests, I get to work in a healthcare clinical environment that complements my degree and background and most importantly, I get to be patient facing. 

So I applied for a Clinical Trials Assistant job and began my career here, where I was initially split across three teams, which was the ED, trauma and orthopaedic team, the lower GI team and the respiratory team. 

This was quite beneficial being split across three teams initially as it gave me a lot of exposure to three very different clinical areas and teams and ways of working. I quickly got up to speed and in an area that I had no experience in previously.  

I mean, in the emergency department we're attending trauma calls, we're consenting patients under emergency waivers, and we're recruiting patients in ED, ICU and resus. 

Then in lower GI, we work with a research fellow. We're bringing in patients for IMP studies and we're very involved with their standard clinical care.  

Then with respiratory, we're recruiting patients on the wards - swabbing patients, relaying the swab results back to the clinical team to aid with their clinical decisions.  

I've also been fortunate to work supporting the cancer, COVID and the vaccine research  teams here. So I've been a bit everywhere!

If we move on to the next slide, please.  

Like I say, this was my first job in a clinical role in the hospital. We have all our CTAs here  complete care certificates. We go through, we have an induction folder so we go through our induction framework. We do our GCP and consent training, which is something specific to Band 4 CTAs.  

So I was pretty much running around and observing, receiving patient consent until I signed off  as competent. 

I've also had the opportunity to become an EDGE champion. For anyone who doesn't know what EDGE is, it's a database that we use for tracking all patient research activity that's then  uploaded to CPMS.

I've had the opportunity to be able to support my colleagues with training new members of staff and then also providing general like assistance and troubleshooting with EDGE.  

With the Clinical Trials Assistant role, one of the biggest draws for me was the clinical side  of things. I've been very enthusiastic for as much clinical exposure as I possibly can. I completed my venesection training as soon as I could and I was fortunate that a lot of [the] studies that I was working on, we're able to take blood. 

I was also able to put a lot of the skills I'd learnt from the clinical skills sessions within our department towards black alert, where we volunteer to help out the emergency department when they're short staffed. So helping with completing obs on patients in majors, patient transfers, taking blood and swabs. 

During COVID, we were also helping on the wards with patients even with something simple like patient turns, washes and helping during mealtimes. 

Also throughout COVID, I had a really good opportunity to volunteer for the ICU proning team to help the staff in critical care with turns and cleaning the critically ill COVID patients, which was a really tough but rewarding experience. 

As a 24 hour service we're providing, we're working 12 hour shifts, night shifts and doing this all in full PPE. I mean, in research, we're usually working Monday to Friday nine to five. It was quite nice to see the other side of hospital working, I suppose, and see just how the other departments work like that.  

I was working with colleagues from all over the hospital; neurosurgeons,matrons, HCAs and nurses and we're all doing the exact same job. I was teaching a neurosurgeon how to turn a patient, which was a pretty bizarre experience, but it was really good. 

If you go to the next slide, please. Thank you.

So then, in May, our department posted an advert for a new role Clinical Research Practitioner, which was pretty perfect for me. I'd already spent three and a half years here in the hospital. 

I wanted to progress my career, but I also wanted to stay patient facing which, typically, you would have had to have chosen between the two if you wanted to progress. So this role was pretty much perfect.  My application was successful and I started this role as of June.  

I've joined the lower GI team full time. I've been able to get a bit more stuck in, which has been a really good experience so far. 

Since starting this new role, I suppose the most common question I'm asked is what has essentially changed? What's new and what's different? And it's quite a difficult question to answer as there have been a lot of changes. But there's also been a lot of training,  

I mean, I'm still screening and attending clinics, consenting patients, taking blood, helping train new colleagues and various things. But there's definitely a strong emphasis on  leadership and management, which is one of the larger changes. 

Since starting this role, I've begun overseeing a group of observational studies that are led by our CTAs. So just ensuring the study is run efficiently, troubleshooting any issues and streamlining recruitment and screening, and trying to fit this all around the team schedule. 

I'm also leading on more studies, whereas before as a CTA, I would be a lead CTA supporting the lead nurse on the study. I've got a bit more autonomy and independence with the study that I'm running myself, which has been really good. 

There's also plans for me to be involved more in staff appraisals and mentorship to new CTAs. Also plans to support future CRPs in the department. I believe some new posts have just gone out to interview. So I'll hopefully be able to provide some support to my new colleagues coming in with the experience I've gained so far. 

The second largest change is the learning opportunities that have become available since starting this role. To help support with the previous stuff I mentioned on the leadership and management side, I plan to enrol on various courses my trust provides in terms of managing people's performance and delegation for managers with the eventual aim to become a mentor for a new starter.

I'm also enrolled on a Master's module in Conducting Clinical Research at the university, which I'm really looking forward to. This is something that's previously only been available to nurses and AHPs in our department.  

I'll also have opportunities to shadow the clinical teams to gain further insight into the specialty and how the patients are clinically managed within that specialty. 

Then finally, not to mention, I've got a slightly different new uniform. Before I was in the light  grey along with the CTAs and then now, I'm in dark grey, like the nurse and AHPs with a  slight difference - I've got yellow epaulettes on my shoulders. 

Go to the next slide, please. 

So, I actually started my application before I started this role, but I finished it afterwards. I was officially registered as a Clinical Research Practitioner in September.  

Once I started my role, I had started by having a conversation with my line manager, a registered nurse, Rachel Schranz. She's someone who I've worked on studies with previously for the last two years, and she's supportive of my professional development. So she was the ideal person to go to, to ask to be my confirmer for my application. She was aware of the CRP register and the directory, but not specific details.  

As I think a lot of people do get confused between the register and the directory. Then also that this role is separate to the register, which I think, again, confuses people even further.

It  started by having a discussion on what I had to do for the registration, and what I needed from her to complete the application. I then forwarded her all the information from the website and the guidance documents, the Scopes of Practice and everything to make sure that she had everything to review.  

She was happy to go ahead with this. So I went ahead with starting my reflective accounts and completing that side of the registration. My best piece of advice is to comb through the Scopes of  Practice and Standards of Proficiency document and apply it at every opportunity to structure your answers around it. 

In my reflective account on professional accountability, I wrote about assessing a situation and understanding my own limitations, seeking advice and appropriately escalating. I then referred this back to Standards of Proficiency 1 and 2 about practising within the boundaries of my role and scope of professional competence.

Just in case it helps anyone in terms of their reflective accounts, some examples that I wrote about on professional accountability was in terms of being asked questions by patients and what I did when this was outside of my scope. Escalating clinical issues I encountered, and then how I dealt with this.  

For 1.2 leadership, I wrote about supporting teams and colleagues using the experience I've gained, supporting with training and supervision, and then also talking about developing my  skills such as delegation, which is something that I've always struggled with previously.  

Then for 1.3 working across boundaries, I wrote about how I've liaised with clinical teams looking after patients and trying to integrate research into their standard clinical care. Setting boundaries with patients to let them know what I'm there for, and what I can and cannot help with, as we sometimes get asked questions by patients that is just way outside of my scope. So I've got to pass them on. 

Also, how I've developed professional relationships across multiple areas of specialties, which has been largely due to the complexity of some of our patients, and then how this has improved our service and research awareness in the area.  

Once I completed these, I came back to Rachel, we had our documented discussion where we went over my reflective accounts, discussed my training folder, going over my induction framework as part of my induction, and to see what had been signed off, what's outstanding or requiring further discussion to make sure that I'm meeting all the criteria and sign off all the bits.  

In terms of any issues that I came across, I think one of the main ones was understanding  what the registration was and relaying that back to my confirmer. There were a lot of questions like, what is this registration? What does it mean, and what's their responsibility?  

Like I said, a lot of people are still unaware of the register and the specifics. I still encounter  a lot of CTAs in our department who possibly would be eligible to join the register because  they have the required experience but they're not aware that just because their job title  isn't clearly called Research Practitioner that they can actually apply and become registered.  

I made a couple of application errors. In the final question, on each reflective account, it  asked to select one or more themes to help with your answer. You're meant to write at the bottom what  those themes are, that you chose. I also forgot to attach my GCP certificate, which was fantastic (!)  

However, all this meant was they [AHCS] just sent me an email saying can you resubmit and include these things. I did that and it delayed it all by about a week. So it wasn't the end of the world.  

The main document I used was the anonymous examples that they have up on there [AHCS website]. It's really good to see how people have structured their answers, and also, use it as inspiration for what to write about. 

I don't know if anyone's like me, when you have absolutely no idea where to start, it's a really good place to look. They [AHCS] also make it so you can only write two pages for each reflective account. So I reduced the font down to size 11!  I'm not sure if you were meant to do it but I did it and they were happy with it. If you're tight  for space, then reduce the font down a little bit. 

If we move down to the next slide, please. 

This is just summarising everything I've talked about really. I think, like I said, this role sets itself apart from the CTA role with the larger focus on leadership and management.  

It's been quite, it's been a challenge so far as there's not been anyone else who's done this  role before in our in our trust because this is brand new. So there's no clear direction of where to go and where to take this. 

It's required a lot of support from my colleagues,  from the education team and my managers to really figure out what they want to do with me; what skills I can learn and how this can then fit in with the team and help the team. 

But overall, it's been pretty positive and I feel like I'm on the right track to get the most out of it. Like I said, I'm enrolled on various courses and have plans to do a lot more in the future. So that's really positive.

I suppose, in the future, I mean, future SIVs and future conversations with patients, I think the registration and the role should hopefully help with allowing us to do more.  

Some studies that I've worked on previously have had issues with CTAs consenting and I'm  hoping that this registration and this role will bridge that gap. It'll prove that I've got enough experience and training to be able to do these things and to allow us to have more  responsibilities. Then also provide reassurance to patients that I do have the required skills  and background to be able to provide good care to them, and provide good research to them.  

Hopefully, after a few years, once this role is more established, there'll be further progression opportunities, providing more options for Clinical Research Practitioners who want to progress their career and stay patient facing. 

I know there's plans in our department to continue supporting this and so I'm looking forward to what that will look like. 

I just want to say a quick thank you to everyone for listening, and also to my managers, team and department for the support that they've given me over the last few years and currently. 

Please contact me if anyone wants to get in touch and reach out if you have any questions. That's it. Thank you.

Javier Magan: 

Thank you very much, Matt, that was a really good insight into your experience of going through the accreditation and how this has impacted what you're able to do.  

It was really interesting, listening about your background, and how, I think, in a way, you've been really lucky to have experience from all those different places. 

One of the points that you made, that is really important, this is allowing you to progress whilst maintaining that patient facing, which is really personal for clinicians and the people that we want to help; to have that contact with patients and participants. It's really good to hear that this is allowing you to progress whilst still maintaining that.  

Some of the points you raised, they're all really valuable. Hopefully, a lot of the attendees  can use the tips that you've given about the registration.  

As you've pointed out, this is a work in progress. This is the early stages,  you guys are being pure pioneers here. 

We from the NIHR and local CRN, we're really trying to engage  in these conversations with all your employers, to make sure that conversation is happening.  We're encouraging them to have that support for you. To look at the benefits of promoting  CTAs to become CRPs and how that will benefit the service. So that was really valuable.

We have another speaker, Donna Abercrombie, she's another of these pioneer CRPs  in Cambridge. I believe that Donna is going to introduce herself and talk a bit more about, the  insights from the process of the registration and becoming a registered CRP. So over to you, Donna.

Donna Abercrombie:

Good afternoon. Thank you, Matt and Andrew, they were really good, very useful and informative presentations. 

I realise that the audience that we've got are going to be coming from a vast range of backgrounds and experience with different skills. 

This is a very complicated process; trying to get registration when you're not going through a training programme, as you do for nursing and other allied health professions. So I think this is a fantastic achievement to get this far. 

I would just like to give you a bit of my background too. I am a registered Clinical Research Practitioner, which I achieved in March. I work in the rheumatology research unit at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge. 

It is just rheumatology research that has to do with the autoimmune system. We do anything from rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, some vasculitis, lupus and rare bone conditions so it's quite specialised.  We're partly funded by charity and partly NHS so it's slightly more unusual. 

Next slide.  

I work in a team with five other nurses. One of those is my line manager. The PIs are the consultants and some of the Research Associates. We do a mixture of research; academic  research, registry, commercial studies. We work on our own unit, we work in outpatients,  we work in research facilities. 

We're looking at working into the community to try and engage more participants in some of the research because coming into Cambridge can be quite difficult.  

My background is, I trained as a diagnostic radiographer but had to give that up because  I developed rheumatoid arthritis myself when I was young. That was quite a difficult thing  with on calls, to continue with. So I didn't keep up my registration.  

I then worked in gastroenterology research, which was drug trials. I did that for four (4) years. 

I then went and did a second Degree in Social and Political Sciences because, like Andrew and Matt, I'm really interested in working face to face with patients and making a difference. That has really been the attraction for me in all the jobs that I have done.  

After completing a Degree in Social and Political Sciences, I did some research into the experiences of different autoimmune conditions. 

I then went into a role which was one of the very first extended roles, so on the basis of having been a radiographer, I was offered  a job like a rheumatology nurse but which was extended into doing patient education. I did that for many years, did lots of extra training. 

I did a Postgraduate Certificate in the Management of Rheumatological Conditions at Keele and then later, I did an MSc in Evidence Based  Clinical Practice. 

I ended up running an early inflammatory arthritis clinic where I would, with a consultant, get the patient started on treatment, escalate it, do disease assessments and try to get people on to advanced therapies so that their disease didn't cause so much damage. I really loved that job but when the trust joined with another trust, the services were completely reformulated. 

In January 2020, I found myself applying for a new role, at a new trust, which at my age is actually quite a challenge in itself but I wanted to continue working, I wanted to continue working with patients. 

Now this new role was as a CRP and that was actually advertised as a CRP. The reason they did that was because the previous team had all left and they were having difficulties recruiting the number of research nurses that they wanted. 

So they thought that they would take a chance and having looked at the papers on CRP, how it's like a nurse but not a nurse, and see what they could get. Being well aware that there were lots of people working in research who have an awful lot of qualifications and background and skills, which they can bring to a team of nurses.  

So I applied for this job and got it in January 2020. Like Matt, there was no induction framework, my manager hadn't yet started and the consultants didn't have a clue what I should be doing. 

So I pretty much followed the nurses around but having worked with nurses previously,  that wasn't a problem. I had lots of skills, but it was very much self directed. I did all the things like the GCP training and the EDGE training, I did archive training and lots of other skills. 

There were numerous things that you have to do for particular studies like capillaroscopy where we're looking at vascular construction for nails. I've  done everything; setting up studies, to lead and consent and all the other things. 

So, why did I need to get a registration as a CRP? Well, for me, this has been very important because I have found in my past role that actually no longer having active registration can be a real obstacle. Having registration makes it much easier to talk to other health professionals.  

So your view of this, well as Andrew said, depends on what your background is and what your current  role is. I mean, mine is within a team which work in a particular field and I have lots of  skills in that field which I've worked for many years. 

Half the nurses had come from rheumatology  and a half of them were research nurses. Previously, I had a research background as well  but we teach each other so...I have a very supportive manager and we're very keen to teach each other different skills. 

How long this application will take will very much depend on your particular circumstances  but I think, you shouldn't beat yourself up if it's taking longer than you think it should take because I think there's an awful lot that you can learn in the process of applying and filling in that application.

The objective isn't just about actually achieving registration, it's what you will gain in the process of doing that and maintaining it. As Matt said, it's as you go forward.

Next slide. 

I looked at it as a way of widening my horizons really and exploring different things. I would agree with Matt that, what you need to do is look at what you do every day, and look at how that matches up to the Standards of Proficiency. 

Make a few notes because you'll be surprised how much you're already doing,  which matches those standards. I think the more you become familiar with those, the easier this  process will be. 

I think, for me, it was very much also defining what my scope of practice was because of my background, rheumatologists were very happy to really let me do everything.  

I was being, I am paid less than the nurses, so I'm a Band 5 and they're Band 6. So I think, why am I being paid less? Of course, if you are taken into the role you apply for. So if you are a CRP at a Band 5, that's what you will do; that will be defined by your job description. But I think you can test the boundaries. 

It's also you have to be aware of not going beyond the boundaries that you should be. You need to know what what is expected of your scope of practice; what you do and where you want to go with that. 

So you may identify things that you would really like to  do to increase your face to face contact. That may include getting more skills, more clinical skills.  It may be teaching other people, I think that's a big part of the role. 

I think, as we are expected to do if, once you've got your CRP registration, is to promote this role and to explain it to people. It is complicated, as both Matt and Andrew said, sometimes getting that over to people. It's quite difficult. 

So, I think the reflective practice is very interesting. I wrote much longer accounts like Matt and I did reduce the font. What I did is I wrote much longer accounts, and then kept those. I then went back to them and cut them down because, I think, a lot of the things that you think, is very useful to keep as a professional development. I think it makes you think, we do work reflective practices as well. 

So, consider other people's perspectives, including the manager, the people we have to think about, we are a charity. There are lots of different things to think about. How do you  get more people in when we're seeing fewer face to face appointments? Do we need to go out into the community? 

There were lots of things and COVID has changed a great deal. That, in itself, has been a real test for me because I was shielding part of that time, so I had to learn how to do remote working. I am very good on databases and worked on COVID research as well. Even if I'm working at home, I can contribute a great deal. It also allows you to really extend your relationships in your networks. There's lots of potential now. 

Next slide.

So, really, professional development, once you have your registration, you need to maintain it. It's not a done deal. You need to just keep on with this, keep developing your skills and areas of interest, identifying gaps in your skills and knowledge. 

There's lots of very good learning on the NIHR website and you'll probably find you  have lots of modules on your own Trust website, which can be really helpful to you. 

Next slide.  

My personal reflection is that the CRP application is a very valuable process in itself and it goes far beyond actually just achieving registration status. Actually, having got registration it's much easier to talk to other people because they understand the language of standards, scope of practice, proficiencies. It just makes it very much easier, people are more confident. 

I also wear a uniform in the clinic,  which also makes approaching patients much easier and reassures them. It makes it easier for people who don't really know what the research role is as well. 

I think this is a really bold move to try and get registration. I really commend the people who've been involved with this. It's been incredibly hard work, I'm sure. We're only at the start of this journey but we are pioneers. Everybody's pioneers who are joining in this process and promoting it. 

It is the only way, really, to attract and retain all the people who work in research. Many people listening to this will make a really valuable contribution but they're not really rewarded sufficiently for that. I would really urge you to look at this process and apply. 

Next slide. 

So, value of registration then. It's the opportunity to explore and reassess my role and my place within the team and the organisation. I certainly feel more valued and think it's  providing more opportunities.

It does provide that common language, which other health professionals understand. I've got a very good supportive manager and I think this has really strengthened the link with her. 

Being a registered professional is a shorthand term and employers will get to understand that a lot more. We should all be proud as this moves and be part of that journey,  

of being a pioneer and shaping the future of future researchers. That's it. Thank you.

Javier Magan: 

Lovely, thank you very much, Donna. As with Andrew and Matt, that was a really interesting reflection. I'm sure that a lot of the attendees find it really valuable to understand a bit better the process and the benefits and what still needs to be done. 

Now we're going to open the Q&A panel. I've seen that there's been some questions in the chat. We are going to have Kelly Adams, NIHR Head of Research Workforce Development joining us to, hopefully, support us in giving you the answers that you need.

I'll just go in order from how they've come. Noah asked “How long it will take for you to submit the application?”

Obviously, Donna has briefly touched on that. So maybe, Matt, do you want to give us how long it took you and offer an insight on that? Thank you.

Matt Morris: 

Sure. I think in terms of writing it, overall it didn't take me too long but in terms of how long it took, after I submitted it, I think, it only took a couple of weeks. 

I submitted it and I think they [AHCS] came back within a few days with those issues when I missed out those few bits. Then after I resubmitted it again, it took maybe a week, week and a half tops. The whole thing, probably like a week to two weeks I imagine. 

In terms of writing it. I think I did it in my spare time over a period of a few weeks.

Javier Magan: 

Thank you, hopefully the attendees find that information really helpful. As Donna mentioned, it will depend on the exposure that you've had and then the time you have to reflect on those experiences and finish the writing process.

Another question from Ruth “Is there any sort of revalidation process?” Donna, would you be happy touching on this? As I think you've briefly mentioned.

Donna Abercrombie:

I think the point I'm making is that once you've got that registration,  you need to continue building a portfolio and to maintain those standards. To keep reassessing your scope of practice, which is what all other health professions have to do.  You will have to keep up with training. Once you're on that journey, then it's an ongoing  journey. 

As I said, you need a career pathway and I think [it will be] once the CRP role is more understood and is wider. I think if these [roles] are successful, and I don't see why they  shouldn't be, there will be many more of them advertised. It's chicken and egg. 

Part of the  problem has been that there isn't a set framework because these roles are so varied but, I think, if you can get some examples and they're shown to work well, more thought will be written in and advertised, which will give more changes to people working in roles and to get that promotion that they really deserve. 

You have to work like other health professions and you have to maintain that registration. So keeping up that portfolio, attending webinars, doing meetings and doing things like this are all part of that, of actually maintaining your professional identity.

Javier Magan: 

Thank you very much, Donna. Kelly, correct me if I'm wrong, but I do understand that you will have to do a revalidation process? I don't know if it'll be every two or three years, but it's very similar to what nurses have to do to demonstrate, as Donna has said, that you're completing your personal development training and that, potentially, you're working within the role.

So if we move into the next question from Ian, we can address this question to Kelly, if you're happy to answer it, I'll just read it for you. 

Ian is asking “How different is the process of getting registration if you do not have a degree?” Ian, currently, is in the role of a Band 5 CRP, having previously worked as a CTA and Data Manager for 12 years. So being in a small team, Ian takes a lot more responsibility for non interventional studies. Eventually, Ian's role was felt to be the same as a CRP and was rebranded and a new title given.

Kelly Adams: 

OK great, thanks Javi, very happy to take this one.  

The NIHR and the Academy for Healthcare Sciences [AHCS] have recently completed a pilot period of looking at exactly how to offer accredited registration status for those  individuals who are working at practitioner level and are able to demonstrate that with evidence but don't have that Level 6 academic qualification that's required to be able to join that accredited register. 

The pilot period was successful and that was accepted by the National CRP Programme  Board. It was agreed that further details will be widely released before the end of this year,  with a view to opening the gateway to all of those individuals that want to join the accredited register but don't have that Level 6 academic qualification in the New Year. So, do look out for updates on both the NIHR and the Academy for Healthcare Sciences websites.  

In the meantime, my advice would be not to hold back from beginning to prepare your application, you'll do that in terms of providing evidence in much the same way that you've heard today from both Matt and Donna. 

Do work with your line managers, express your desire to join that accredited register when the gateway opens. Begin working with line managers to collate that evidence and have those conversations that you need, to put yourself in the best possible position when that gateway opens in January. I hope that helps.

Javier Magan: 

Thank you very much, Kelly. That was really informative and hopefully it answers the question from Ian. 

We have another really interesting question from Ben and I think he's echoing some of  Andrew's questions from earlier on and some of the comments that Matthew made in his presentation. 

So, the question is “Career progression is vital to a lot of us. Both Andrew and Matthew  reference opportunities to remain clinical or patient facing, {Ben} wonders what to do if our site or employer does not offer CRP equivalent roles? It's good to hear that UHS are offering a Band 5 but what about the progression of Band 6's and 7's? Also, {Ben} is asking plenty of other employers that currently do not offer even a Band 5?”

So, it seems the same, to maybe need to move away from your current employer, to reach that next step up the ladder, the career ladder. It's a scheme, where the NIHR offers encouragement to sites [NHS employers] to open up to Band 5, 6 or maybe 7's if not so currently. 

I've just briefly said a couple of points, but obviously, Kelly, if you have any more information, please.  

That is a really good point, Ben, and I'm sure that a lot of people are echoing that.

So from the NIHR, we're having those conversations with employers and we're hoping that through that  engagement with those NHS organisations, we'll enable future opportunities for progression and  growth within the CRP pathway. 

We're encouraging managers to have those conversations with HR, and highlight and understand the benefits that these new CRP positions will bring to the organisation.  This is in conjunction with supporting staff through the accreditation process.  

In regards with the opportunities, this is something that echoes across professions, so a lot of people will have a similar feeling about that. 

Sometimes, that is what happens so people need to balance whether they want to stay with their current employer, and maybe, give them a bit more time to create those roles or are there other opportunities that work really well for your growth and professional development  somewhere close or you may have to change for this. Kelly, do you want to add anything to this?

Kelly Adams: 

Yea, thanks Javi. Just to say with my NIHR Coordinating Centre hat on,  the NIHR is really aware and sensitive to the fact that every NHS employer across the country  faces different challenges, has different teams, delivers to different research studies.

It's really not for the NIHR to get involved in any kind of staffing decisions that individual trusts will need to make. However, the role for us in the NIHR is absolutely to support NHS employers and managers, who are looking to address how they might further support workforce shortages across the system, including within research, and help to enable them to gather the information that  they need, and implement new roles if that's what they want to do, including higher banded Clinical Research Practitioners, in a safe way. 

Currently, to do that we're having conversations with key stakeholders, such as NHS England and UKRD and lots of other key stakeholders from the devolved administration. So Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales because it's not just an issue that we face in England. 

We are very mindful that local employment decisions are for those employing organisations themselves to make. Whilst we're absolutely supportive of looking at it in a different way, we wouldn't dream of kind of getting involved in any other way than that.

Javier Magan:

Thank you very much, Kelly. I think we only have one more minute, so we'll try and squeeze one last question and then we'll wrap up. 

The last question has come from an anonymous attendee who is asking “Whether there's going to be a core pathway of what trainees need to become a registered CRP as there seems to be a lot of variation in the skills, experience and qualifications from the different three speakers?”

That's a really good point. Just to touch on that, there are some Standards of Proficiency for the role that were developed by a working group, including members of NHS Trusts, the NIHR, and the AHCS and these are available online. 

What we are planning to do following this series of events is, because we understand that some of these resources are found in different places, we're trying to put them together for you, in a space in NIHR Learn. We'll make sure that the details on how to access all this are there. We're aiming to make this available by, hopefully, mid December. 

Kirsty, I see you've got your hand up. You want to add anything to that?

Kirsty Gladas: 

Thank you. Just quickly, we're on the dot aren't we for half past one,  just to answer the few questions about the care certificate. As it's a nationally recognised  document for healthcare support workers, not only new to healthcare, but those that have been in health care for a while. 

It just consolidates all of that learning and gives assurance to not only the person who's completing it, but also to the institution, future employers, you can take that with you wherever you go. I think if you're doing a patient facing role, and you don't have a degree that sort of states that, having that [care certificate] as a basic minimum before you build up on those other things,is definitely something to start with. 

Again, most trusts have some sort of process in place for you to be able to join that and you need line manager approval and a mentor to make it research related because at the moment, I'm aware, it's very clinical ward based. 

We [CRN Wessex] can help you in terms of being able to adapt that and make it research focused. I know that that's something that UHS have requested for a basic minimum and we've done that with our own CTAs within our core team at CRN Wessex.

Javier Magan: 

Thank you very much, Kirsty. I'm afraid we'll need to wrap up there.  I'm sorry, we didn't manage to answer all your questions but please do feel free to get in contact with us.

There will be a post event email to all of you where you can just reach back to us with any questions that you have. We'll make sure we stay in touch, once these resources are together and we'll give you the instructions on how you access them. 

Thank you very much for attending and, hopefully, you found this second event very valuable. Please make sure that you attend the third one and the fourth one, if you're interested in having more information. Thank you.