Research nurse Bethany HamiltonDuring 2020, we are celebrating the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife. It is 200 years since the birth of nurse Florence Nightingale. Today we think of Florence as the first research nurse, who pioneered the use of 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.

In this latest interview in our series of posts, we talk to Beth Hamilton, Paediatric Research Nurse at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital.

What drew you to a career in research nursing?

I had been working on a Paediatric High Dependency Unit (PHDU) for a few years and was looking for a new job which enabled me to progress in my career, gain more autonomy, while also getting a better work-life balance.

Research within paediatric nursing is always something that had interested me. I had always tried to get involved in various trials taking place on PHDU so this felt like a natural move for me. The appeal of working within the Evelina was also a big draw!

I have always had a range of interests, so was definitely attracted to the fact that I could work within a wide range of specialities that research nursing offered such as endocrine, infectious diseases, cardiology, genetics and neurology among others. Becoming a research nurse enabled me to explore these specialities without having to commit permanently to specialising in a specific clinical area at a relatively early stage of my nursing career.

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

Since working within paediatric research I have found the level of autonomy within the role very rewarding, as well as being a big responsibility. I have loved being in charge of how my days are managed such as organising when to see patients, what I need for patient visits and liaising with the Multidisciplinary team (MDT) as well as study sponsors. At first it definitely felt that a big step up in terms of accountability but it is a challenge I have enjoyed getting to grips with, and has certainly made me perfect some organisational skills.

I have also loved working within a MDT which involves a variety of non-clinical and clinical members of the team – all of whom have taught me so much clinically, and of course about research.

What do you think the future holds for research nursing?

Research is a growing aspect of nursing which is going to infiltrate into all aspects of nursing care – whether you work within research or not– particular in paediatrics, as it is a rapidly advancing and developing speciality.

Transforming scientific evidence into nursing practice is vital to the progress of how we deliver clinical care to patients, therefore it is imperative that it is invested in. I believe it will become a big focus of NHS trusts and consequently a big part of our day to day nursing care.

A message for anyone considering a career in research nursing?

I would say go for it! If you have an interest in the area, it’s definitely worth pursuing.

I would also say don’t worry if it doesn’t all make sense straight away –it all falls into place piece by piece as time goes on. As research is an ever evolving area of nursing, everyone is constantly learning on the job, which is what makes it so interesting and challenging!