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Clinical Research Practitioners: an integral part of the research community in the East Midlands

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The NIHR CRN recently launched the CRP Directory. Camille Hutchinson, who works in a CRP role as Clinical Trials Researcher at the University of Nottingham, tells us about her experience and why she thinks CRPs should take the time to become accredited...

Camille has been a Clinical Research Practitioner (CRP) for nearly four years. She graduated with a Medical Physiology and Therapeutics degree from the University of Nottingham, and then worked as a Healthcare Assistant on a surgical ward for ten months.

Her first CRP role was in Oncology, where she worked on a number of different studies and trials. Camille worked on trials across a number of different tumour sites, where her responsibilities included screening patients, recruitment and follow-up. 

Camille subsequently became Clinical Trials Researcher at the University of Nottingham, which is a CRP role. Her position is funded by the CRN East Midlands, and she is based at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust. There, Camille works at the NIHR accredited Hyperacute Stroke Research Centre, across a portfolio of research including thrombolysis trials in which patients need to be treated within 4.5 hours of symptom onset.

“I work as part of a team of six on a rota basis to cover the hyper-acute stroke ward,” she explains. “We work across a number of different trials. My work can include looking at the effect of the different timings of medications, supervising patients receiving treatment, and delivering questionnaire or rehabilitation studies.” The role also includes follow-up visits with participants, and making sure that site files and data for the different studies are kept up to date.

“It’s a busy, fast paced role, but one that I enjoy a lot,” Camille says. “I also get to take an active role in the set-up of new trials, working closely with the Research & Innovation department, which provides me with a way to continually develop my knowledge of research.”

Camille believes that the CRP Directory, which was launched by the NIHR CRN, is a step towards growing the role of CRPs. “I think it will help to provide CRPs with an identity,” she explains. “It has the potential to help with the standardisation of job descriptions, and could provide a more structured career progression pathway for CRPs.”

Like many CRPs, Camille has spent much of the past eighteen months working in research as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I was proud to be part of the team delivering the RECOVERY trial,” she says, “and we were approved to receive consent from patients in recognition of our experience and skill level.

“In fact, one of my colleagues who is also a CRP was the first researcher to recruit a patient onto RECOVERY at the Trust. Other CRPs have supported more Urgent Public Health studies, as well as the Valeneva vaccine trial, and I know that our contribution has made an enormous difference during a challenging time.”

Camille is a strong advocate for the CRP Directory and believes that more CRPs should consider aiming for accreditation. “Even if your long term aspirations are outside of research, being accredited can help your CV and highlight your experience,” she says. “It can also show that you are committed to career development and progression. Take the time to speak to other accredited CRPs in your organisation who can tell you about the benefits, but my advice is to go for it!”

Find out more about the CRP Directory and how to join.