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A career in research: working with education in healthcare

Encouraging health professionals to consider a career in research during their training is vital to secure the research workforce of the future. We are working with education providers including the University of West London to give students the experience of working in research.

In this article, Dr Catherine Lynch, Course Leader in MSc Advancing Professional Practice at the university’s College of Nursing, Midwifery and Healthcare explains how the university is giving its students the opportunity to learn about a career in research.

I work at the University of West London and completed my doctoral research in 2020. We teach student nurses about research in the classroom but they don’t often get a chance to see actual research happen in the real world, so it was a great opportunity to be part of opening the Clinical Research Unit at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading to our nursing students as a placement area.

Our students really appreciated the insight into real world research “in action” describing the unit as “a hidden gem”. They were very impressed with the communication skills they saw clinical research nurses using and said they got opportunities to see the whole research process, from recruitment and consenting of patients, through to data analysis. However, not many students get to experience this unique placement so we need to find ways of extending the experience to more students during their undergraduate programme.

Following the placement, we were able to work with our colleagues in the NIHR Clinical Research Network Thames Valley and South Midlands, who facilitated some classroom sessions using a slide deck they had developed to raise awareness and provide insight into the work and role of the NIHR and clinical research nurses. We hope to be able to continue that work and create more collaborative approaches to classroom delivery of evidence based practice and research awareness and readiness in our future nursing population

Research is high on the agenda here at the University of West London, with many of our professors involved with research projects in health-related subjects. We have just started an “Early Career Researcher” network, to support and encourage staff in the College of Nursing, Midwifery and Healthcare to actively engage in undertaking research activity. We are delighted to be supporting the NIHR for its Shape the Future research careers campaign throughout November through our poster campaigns at our campus in Reading and London.