Image of Matthew AldersDuring 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 third in this series of posts, we talk to Matthew Alders, Senior Staff Nurse, Acute Admissions Ward at St Thomas’ Hospital.

What drew you to a career in research nursing?

I currently work as a Senior Staff Nurse on the Acute Admissions Ward at St Thomas’ Hospital and am just getting started in research nursing. I recently completed a PhD in Health Studies at King’s College London.

My research is about using a systems engineering perspective to explore how we can understand and improve the safety of healthcare systems. I conducted my PhD research on my ward. I am still working on disseminating the findings from my research but hope that it will be able to support healthcare staff to deliver safer, more effective care.

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

I am passionate about developing a clinical academic career. I continue to enjoy providing care to patients on a busy, acute medical admissions ward. The skills I developed during my PhD training have helped me improve the way I deliver care to patients. At the same time, my continued engagement in clinical work means that my research is grounded in real world problems.

What do you think the future holds for research nursing?

Nurses are one of the main disciplines in healthcare. We have the potential to make a significant positive impact to healthcare research.

In the future I hope to see more nurses pursuing postgraduate education, leading on research projects and advancing clinical academic career pathways for the benefit of all.

A message for anyone considering a career in research nursing?

I would encourage anyone that likes asking questions or thinking about how we can change things for the better to consider a career in research. There are many diverse roles in the research domain, from administering drugs in clinical trials to designing system improvements. There will be a role for you.