During 2020, we are celebrating the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife. It is 200 years since the birth of pioneering nurse Florence Nightingale. Today we think of Florence as the first research nurse, as she innovatively used data and evidence to transform patient care.

Research nursing now spans across all clinical specialities and ranges from supporting the delivery of clinical research to nurse led research.

For the second in this series of posts, we talk to Claire Singh, Research Matron for Reproductive Health & Childbirth and NIHR Midwife Champion for Reproductive Health and Childbirth London South CRN.

What drew you to a career in research midwifery?

After many years working in the community as a midwife, I wanted to make a bigger impact on the health of women and their families, and felt that research would potentially give me that opportunity.

I had a lot of questions about why I undertook some of the practices that were part of clinical care, and felt that by contributing to clinical research, I could be part of providing evidence for the future that would inform practice and shape the future of midwifery care.

What have you found to be the most rewarding part of research midwifery?

There are many elements of my role that I find rewarding. For example, when I used to see women as part of one specific clinical trial, I was able to have time and continuity with them that I may not have had if I were working clinically. I got to follow the women as part of their participation in the trial, and follow up with them until their child was three years old. It’s so rewarding to see a clinical trial come to fruition from the point of design stages into recruiting and though to close out.

I also really like the governance side of clinical research delivery. I enjoy liaising with the other teams in the Research and Development department. A trial needs so much input from different teams and different types of expertise to complete it and it’s great to work together like this.

What do you think the future holds for research midwifery?

I think clinical research for nurses and midwives has changed, and there are many opportunities opened up to us in the last few years. I think there is potentially something for everyone. You could pursue a clinical academic career, dip your toe in the water of clinical research just to broaden your experience, right through to a long term career in clinical research delivery.

In the near future, I would like to see many more midwifery and nursing Primary Investigators for trials, and the opportunities widen further, with completely embedding clinical research into clinical core business.

A message for anyone considering a career in research midwifery?

If you have an interest in research midwifery or nursing, speak to your clinical research colleagues. You are always very welcome to meet with the teams, shadow and find out more.