Ahead of International Nurses’ Day 2018, our Public Engagement Projects Manager Claire O’Neill spoke to Guy’s and St Thomas’ research nurses about their career.

It’s impossible to understate the vital role Research Nurses play in making research happen. They are the people who talk to patients about what will be involved in a trial, take them through the process of signing up, and will work with them as they go through the process. I spoke to a few of the members of our team about how they became a research nurse and what makes their job rewarding.

Emmanuel Toni from dermatology told me about his transition from working in Accident and Emergency (A&E).

“I was an A&E nurse for four years which was an extremely intense environment so I started to think I needed a change. My flat mate was a research nurse and she told me all about this career which I hadn’t even realised was a possibility before then.

“When I moved into this role, I was offered lots of training such as Good Clinical Practice and the Oxford Brooks Post Graduate Certificate in Managing Clinical Trials which I completed online. I also learned a lot on the job and there is a really good mix of new starters and people who have been in the team for a long time so we all learn from each other. In dermatology, our aim is to never let a patient leave a clinic without at least giving them the opportunity to take part in a trial.”

Zareen Bheekhun from neuroendocrinology feels that “there is a real sense of completion working on drugs trials because you see the whole process and can see the improvement in really ill people.”

She also talked about the importance of joining up research with clinical care “I have found that the better integrated research is into care, the more likely patients will be to engage with us. We work really closely with all Clinical Nurse Specialists as well as our Principal Investigators and this in turn influences the patients to take part”

Adrian Green qualified as a nurse in 1991 and as a research nurse in 1996 “I fell into the role and have now become so specialised it would be pretty impossible to leave now! The system can be very bureaucratic and you have to learn to be patient. It once took me three months to get a study through ethics and it took two weeks to complete it!”

Adrian talked about how much less hierarchical it is working in research than in a clinical setting. “I share an office with my Principal Investigator and you feel much more a part of the team. It is much easier to transfer your skills across specialities once you’ve been a research nurse for a while and you can work anywhere.”

A research nurse with a patient who is giving bloodHemawtee Sreeneebus, now Modern Matron for Research, worked in oncology for many years and worked alongside the research nurses. “I was fascinated by their work and their attention to detail. I looked for a role for a long time but as they were almost all fixed term, I was worried about giving up my job security.

“When I finally began my career as a research nurse, I started in oncology with palliative care patients but I soon moved onto dermatology. After such a long time in oncology, I found dermatology really satisfying as I could see the improvements in my patients and the difference we were making to their quality of life.”