“Is a career in clinical research nursing for me?”
18 November 2022
Kim Oakes is one of our 2023 research interns. Having recently qualified as a Learning Disability Nurse, in this blog she reflects on the next stage of her career, following a path in research.
Having just qualified as a mature Learning Disability Nurse, I am now wondering what my next career move will be. Unexpectedly, during my degree I fell in love with research.
I wasn’t particularly aware of research when I started at college. Although as a parent carer I had experienced the devastation of not being given the opportunity to participate in a national study about a medical intervention, that only a limited number of parent carers could have commented on.
As a student, I found there wasn’t much research focussed on people with a learning disability either. My passion for research is driven by wanting to redress this balance, especially through qualitative research which values people’s lived experiences as an essential ingredient in collaborative patient care.
I started my research internship with ARC West in September. I wanted to understand the roles within clinical research and bring the language of research papers I had read at college to life. I also wanted to have a better understanding of how service users can get involved in research. And ultimately, to see if a research nurse role was for me as a recent graduate.
My internship was with a musculoskeletal clinical research team based at a hospital. I’ve had the opportunity to see each stage of the research process, from grant application, to conducting a study, to published results bringing positive changes to everyday clinical practice.
The internship has brought the terms used in research papers to life for me. I now have a greater understanding of how clinical research is becoming usual practice and how it brings about better outcomes for service users and staff.
I have had the opportunity to speak with lots of people involved in the research world and how this world engages with service users and the public. There is a great drive to bring diversity and inclusivity to service user and public engagement in research.
As a Learning Disability Nurse I have an opportunity to make involvement accessible to people with a learning disability. I also want to promote participation for everyone that would like to contribute and not feel devastated when that opportunity isn’t there.
So is a research nurse role for me? I’d say that yes, it most definitely is. It’s an amazing career: it’s proactive, inclusive and enables me to bring the voices of the underrepresented to the table. This can only be a positive step for everyone involved in healthcare.
To find out more about a career in research, visit the NIHR website.