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What is a Research Special Study Unit? A Case Study with Cornwall Foundation Trust

What is a Research Special Study Unit? A Case Study with Cornwall Foundation Trust

What is a Research Special Study Unit? A Case Study with Cornwall Foundation Trust

During medical training students experience a range of specialties and clinical environments to give them first-hand exposure that helps them make decisions about the area of medicine that is most suited to them. Special Study Units (SSU) are designed to give students the opportunity to get involved with projects that explore an area of practice in detail.

Tom Nancarrow, 21, is a fourth year medical student at University of Exeter Medical School and chose to pursue a research project at Cornwall Foundation Trust with Dr Rohit Shankar MBE, Consultant in Adult Developmental Neuropsychiatry.

Research Special Study Unit

The Research SSU involves learning spread across the course of a year culminating in a SSU Assessment Conference. Rohit and colleagues produced a survey for professionals involved with the Learning Disabilities Specialist Team to assess their knowledge of the STOMP initiative (stopping over medication of people with a learning disability, autism or both with psychotropic medicines).

Tom describes his approach: “STOMP is important but local teams didn’t fully adopt it. We wanted to see why it didn’t get fully integrated into practice. Our survey assessed knowledge of STOMP and how it varied in roles such as Nurses, Psychologists, Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists.”

The survey findings were that knowledge and understanding of STOMP best practice and guidelines are associated with training. The recommendation resulting from the survey analysis was for local teams to implement semi-structured STOMP training developed on a local level focussed on front line staff directly involved in the management of challenging behaviour to increase knowledge and understanding of STOMP.

Presenting An Opportunity

Tom took his findings and presented them in a poster presentation at his medical school but Rohit pushed him to take it further and present the poster at the IASSIDD (International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities) Congress in Glasgow.

Tom: “I was receptive to the idea and keen to do it, everyone involved was enthusiastic. It was pretty daunting presenting at a three day conference with delegates from all around the world. People had insightful questions and it seems they listened. I felt like I’d achieved something.”

The Benefits Of Research

Rohit adds what he sees as the benefits of doing Research SSU: “It has been a learning journey for both of us. The SSU allows education on a novel topic which can then help define their careers. It teaches them research methodology and importantly it allows them to explore a larger science world. It helps get them published and enhances their CV; not to mention national and international conference presentations. Lastly but most importantly they understand another aspect of how patient care can be enhanced and the role research plays to facilitate it.”

Read an overview of Tom’s project: Bespoke STOMP training for learning disability teams—Does it work?

Want to find  more about how you can experience research as a medical student? Read Primary Care Introduction To Research Inspires Medical Student

If you would like any further information you can contact Tom Nancarrow direct at:

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