“I fell in love with working in research”
Christine Catley is no ordinary nurse. After 12 years working in the insurance industry, she grasped the opportunity to train for the career she now loves.
The Comms team from CRN North Thames visited Christine during a working day, at the Helen Rollason Research Centre and asked her all about her journey and love of clinical research.
Having studied for a nursing degree, Christine qualified in the year 2000 and began working in the renal unit whilst raising her family. Her chance came when one of the many respected researchers at Broomfield wanted to conduct a polycystic kidney disease study. With no research-experienced renal nurse to hand, Christine was offered training to broaden her role and she enthusiastically rose to the challenge. Within the Broomfield Hospital grounds in Chelmsford, the team at the Helen Rollason Research Centre were so supportive, the study made Christine fall in love with working in research.
Initially fulfilling a research role for one day a week, Christine is now a dedicated full time Research Nurse, working as part of Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust’s (MEHT) team at Broomfield Hospital.
Research at MEHT
Since starting in her research role, Christine and the Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) have grown from strength to strength. The unit were the top UK recruiters in the polycystic study and last year Mid Essex were the highest recruiting non-teaching hospital for the specialty in North Thames. Christine has helped teach other nurses about research and get them involved in studies across the hospital. There is now a second renal research nurse and others working in different specialties.
The research nurses work closely together, assisting each other with practical support as well as pooling knowledge and experience. Christine thrives in the busy department and is inspired by those she works with. She tells us:
“Our renal doctors are very enthusiastic about research, and our nursing colleagues in the renal unit are very supportive of research too.”
The research nurse’s role
Christine is passionate and enthusiastic about her position and is frequently an advocate for the research nurses’ role. She reveals some interesting facts behind the growing profession: “Research nursing is now one of the fastest emerging specialisms, and nurses are the largest body of professionals carrying out clinical research in the NHS"
“Research nursing is a great extension to the skill set of the renal multi-disciplinary team and it’s important that nurses can offer research to patients. The role is ideal for those wanting to extend their education and through it we’re able to actively contribute to knowledge of conditions and bring about positive change.
“It’s a real privilege working so closely with individual patients and we receive great feedback. Many patients and their families tell us how much they enjoy coming here to the CTU”.
Support from the NIHR
“Through the NIHR CRNs the Department of Health is placing more than £300 million a year into funding research staff and paying for the use of NHS equipment and facilities. CRN North Thames coordinate and support the delivery of our research and give us practical help in things like advice on studies in the pipeline and facilitating regular teleconferences with other hospitals undertaking renal studies”.
Patients are key
Patients seem keen to participate at MEHT, but what would you say to others who are considering taking part in clinical research?
“Just to take your time to make sure you are comfortable with the requirements of the study; discuss it with your family, friends and any healthcare professionals. Research is completely voluntary and the patients’ needs and safety are always put first so we make sure that it’s always right for them”.
Christine has participated in two studies herself and gained personal experience:
“I know I felt content that I helped improve the knowledge surrounding diseases which will hopefully improve care for patients in the future. Without volunteers, there would be no innovative treatments, devices or new techniques to improve care or quality of life.”
“One of my patients spoke to me recently after taking part in a two-year study” Christine tells us. “He told me”: “I would say to anybody who is asked to enter this kind of research, seize it with both hands. It is a wonderful opportunity”.
Article courtesy of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)