Nurses in research blog: Emma and Naomi

Emma Russell and Naomi O'Mahony are Mental Health Liaison Nurses, based in St Thomas’ Hospital and Lewisham Hospital respectively. They support people presenting with mental health crisis, usually in A&E but also across their hospitals, to assess each person’s needs and create a personalised treatment plan

They both began their 12-month BRC Research Secondments in October 2019, and told us about their experiences so far and why they got involved:

Is research something you were interested in before you saw the secondment opportunities?

Emma: Thanks to my degree, doing research was always something I had in the back of my mind as something I might come back to, but I wanted to establish myself as a clinician first and consolidate those skills first.

Naomi: I felt the same, and over the different roles I’ve had it’s always been important to recruit the patients we help to clinical trials. I was always interested in the different studies taking place.

Emma: A lot of people come in and ask about all of this amazing research they could be part of, and though I really wanted to be a part of that I wasn’t quite sure how to do that while maintaining a clinical role.

Is maintaining a clinical role alongside doing research important to you?

Emma: Definitely, it was a key factor.

Naomi: Yes, as I could continue developing clinical skills and then, hopefully, develop skills in research that would be transferable to technical skills, and vice versa.

Can you tell us about your secondments?

Emma: I’m based at the Centre for Affective Disorders and I am working across a lot of the different studies they’ve got going on. There are a few different early phase trials across depression, bipolar disorder and psychedelic trials at times as well.

Naomi: I am working on a new study looking at using biomarkers to predict how patients with first-episode psychosis respond after treatment with anti-psychotics, and we hope to share relevant findings with the clinicians involved. So far I’ve enjoyed learning more about setting up a research study and I am looking forward to being involved with the recruitment of participants and collection of data.

Is the research related to the clinical work you do?

Naomi: Yes, very much so.  I was previously a care coordinator for an early intervention psychosis team, so this clinical area is a particular interest of mine, and that is one of the reasons I wanted to get involved in this study. I also hope my clinical experience of working with this client group will be of benefit to the study going forward.

How has the transition been from your full-time clinical roles?

Emma: It is a shift in pace and direction from a clinical setting where there are always a million things going on for you to do. In a research setting, it’s more up to you to find the opportunities and network and see what others are doing around you.

Naomi: I’ve really enjoyed splitting my time between these two settings which are so different. You can get the best of both worlds by still being involved with clinical work.

What would you say to anyone that's interested in getting involved in these secondments?

Naomi: I'm really glad that I did it. I think it's a really great opportunity and if people have any interest in research it's something they should definitely consider. There’s not a commitment at the end of your 12 months, but it’s something that can lead you down a new path and is a great way of getting more experience.

Emma: I’ve been really surprised how, even in a short space of time, I've learned things that improve my clinical work. I expected that to happen with time but not so quickly! It is a challenge and it is a change, but in a positive way. I'm looking forward to developing my skills and working out where I want to go as a researcher and what I can do to develop my career.

And what do the research teams say?

Dr Natalie Gottlieb, a Research Associate at Centre for Affective Disorders, said “Emma has been super helpful with patient recruitment, bringing perspectives and inside knowledge I do not have as a non-clinical researcher. She’s been instrumental in helping us identify the right teams and services for our patient group.”

Dr Graham Blackman, Clinical Research Associate in Psychosis Studies, “Through Naomi’s enthusiasm and experience of having worked in an early intervention psychosis team, she’s been a real asset. She has already helped us in developing the questionnaires and tests we will be using and her clinical experience with this patient group is invaluable.”

See our current opportunites on our Training & Development page

Tags: Staff News - Training & capacity development -

By NIHR Maudsley BRC at 27 Jan 2020, 16:58 PM

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