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East Midlands celebrates success of Research Internship

Date: 15 November 2017

This Autumn, the CRN East Midlands celebrated the graduation event of the Research Envoys at Devonshire Place, Leicester.

The Research Envoy programme was a pilot internship aiming to build and enable a local network of Clinical Research Envoys who will act as ambassadors and champion research within their clinical areas. These Envoys may also go onto a career in clinical research so a secondary aim was to develop the research workforce and potential clinical research leaders of the future.

This pilot scheme was developed by Professor Julian Barwell, Division 3 Clinical Lead for the CRN East Midlands, Susan Corr, Head of R&D at Leicestershire Partnership Trust and Michele Eve, Workforce Development Lead, CRN East Midlands.

Professor Barwell said “When clinical services are stretched, maintaining a focus on research and clinical governance can be challenging. Embedding research into the cultural DNA of a team requires leadership across all personnel groups interacting with patients and not just medical staff. This project aimed to encourage and promote leadership in allied health professionals around various aspects of clinical research to determine if this improves opportunities for the 'research conversation' to take place. I was delighted to see how so many of the participants have acted as powerful catalysts for research in their clinical areas, improving patients' access to studies whilst growing into our future leaders. Programmes like this will be crucial to improving the care we deliver for patients in the East Midlands”.

The proposal for the programme was based on a 20 day CRN internship, comprising 5 education days, a 10 day placement and a further 5 days for project work, for up to 10 non-medical clinical staff from both the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL)  and Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT). Participants were expected to have been in a clinical role for at least 12 months and be able to demonstrate an interest in research.

After their recent success of completing a national Advanced Leadership Programme course, Gail Melvin, Research Manager at LPT and Rekha Patel, Research Nurse at UHL jointly led this programme, providing help and support to all interns throughout their journey to completion, Gail said “From the very beginning of the programme, all of the interns have shown great enthusiasm and have produced excellent projects, with some going beyond the expectation of the programme by becoming directly involved in research work or are in the process of submitting ideas for potential research studies”.


Research Envoy Graduates

Above L-R from back row, Jonathon James - Radiographer, Matthew Pickard - Project Manager Adult Mental Health. Middle row, Mobin Patel - Pharmacist, Aimee Coltman - Play Specialist, Paula Otter - Occupational Therapist, Gail Melvin - Research Manager. Front row, Suzanne Fenn - Dietician, Ruqiya Yusuf - Radiographer, Baguiasri Mandane - Pharmacist, Rekha Patel - Research Nurse

Nine fantastic, motivated and enthusiastic interns entered the programme with the support of their line managers, eight were able to successfully complete the whole programme and after all of the hard work that was put in by all, it only seemed fitting that a celebration event be held to showcase their achievements. Each intern was given the opportunity to present their projects and they were then individually presented with a certificate of achievement by Elizabeth Moss, Chief Operating Officer, CRN East Midlands.

Elizabeth said “It was fantastic to attend the Research Envoys celebration event to learn more about the varied projects and different staff members who had been involved in this pilot scheme. What struck me the most was the level of enthusiasm in the room. Everyone who had been involved on the day was so energised about their projects and about promoting the importance of research in their very different NHS settings. I was also impressed by the leadership and dedication shown by both Gail and Rehka who have led the scheme, supported by Michele Eve and Julian Barwell. Gail and Rehka undertook this work as part of their own development in the Advanced Leadership Programme, which they both completed earlier this year. The work they have done to develop and deliver this pilot will hopefully stay in the East Midlands in the future as much of learning, along with the materials and the journey of the Envoys can be drawn upon should this scheme run in the future. At present a report is being compiled to evaluate this programme and look to what we can learn from this scheme and the enthusiastic, effective Research Envoys for the future”.

The CRN East Midlands would like to congratulate all of the envoys on their success and wish them all the best in their future research ventures.

Take a look at the filmed highlights of the event below



  • Summary:
    The Research Envoy Internship is the first of its kind in the country and has promising potential in engaging talented individuals in research careers.
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