Earlier this week, I attended the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) International Centenary Conference as part of the NIHR team to promote its role and help to ensure that nurses know what the NIHR does and recognise their role as the research arm of the NHS.

Approximately 500 nurses from the UK and around the world attended the conference, making  a great forum to raise awareness of the work of the NIHR. The event was organised to celebrate the RCN’s centenary and a chance to reflect on the last 100 years and plan for the next 100.

Over the course of the two day event we spoke to delegates at the conference about the work of the NIHR to raise its profile and highlight some key messages:

  • The NIHR is committed to developing the research leaders of the future
  • The NIHR provides career pathways for nurses to pursue a career in research
  • Research active environments deliver superior clinical care
  • Research should be core business for everyone
  • NIHR Clinical Research Nurses are a vital role in delivering NIHR research
  • Nurses are uniquely placed on the front line to see where the gaps are and the questions that need answering

I also had the chance of speak to delegates about the role of the Clinical Research Nurse and the benefit we have to patient care. I was very keen to raise awareness of the support that the NIHR offers for research nurses and the opportunities available for nurses to pursue a clinical academic career, and the fellowships programmes that are available to facilitate this.

Later in the day, we ran a workshop titled “Developing a career in research”. This provided a practical overview of the NIHR and its work. I spoke about my career as a research nurse and my current duties as a Research Matron. I also outlined the impact that the NIHR have had on research within the NHS and the development and growth of the role of a Clinical Research Nurse.