Date: 03 May 2018
Jacqueline Miller is a Children’s Research Nurse at Moorfields Eye Hospital and a dedicated member of the Paediatric workstream, for the UK Clinical Research Facility network (UKCRF).
In readiness for National Children's Day, she finds us time amongst another busy day, to talk about how she came to the role and how she discovered a passion for research.
“Applying for my first research role, I had no previous experience of research but thought it looked really exciting! It was a Band 6 role in a dedicated children's research unit and as I knew instantly when I started that this was the field of nursing for me”.
“I love the structure and discipline of the research protocols and the excitement of trialling new treatments within a safe environment. It’s wonderful to be surrounded by experts in the field who are passionate about advancing treatments and care for children”.
“I love working directly with the children and their families too”; Jacqueline tells us:
“I really admire families that commit to participating in research and really enjoy carefully supporting their research journey. The consenting procedure is a real challenge to ensure that everybody understands what they are signing up to and that expectations are accurate for what is involved, but I enjoy taking the time with families to ensure that it’s given the importance it deserves”.
Jacqueline is also a member of the UKCRF Network Paediatric Workstream, where she attends meetings and contributes to ongoing work for the group;
“Being a UKCRF member is a great resource and networking opportunity and is very collaborative and supportive. It allows me to keep abreast of national and international developments to keep our paediatric research practice here at Moorfields up to date and in line with the other CRFs. At Moorfields I champion paediatric research, share best practice for safe and effective care and can act as a resource to others less familiar with research processes and requirements”.
“For NIHR Portfolio studies, the extra support available from the CRN is really valuable too”.
Getting it right
Jacqueline is passionate about her work to help develop the way studies are made suitable for children, with research design that is right for them:
“I’m particularly passionate about ensuring the design of research is appropriate for children and this is not always easy. It is essential that the right experts (including children and young people themselves) contribute to the designs of protocols to ensure they are suitable and achievable for children as well as being acceptable to families. It also means there is better recruitment and retention to studies. Working with children and families, we have to be exceptionally mindful of specific ethical considerations. They are a vulnerable group, but we need to work to ensure they are not excluded from research because of this”.
Research for children is so important
“For the last 3 years I have worked at Moorfields Eye Hospital and I have really loved learning about Paediatric Ophthalmology”. Safe innovations in treatments for children with eye disease are vital, as some conditions only affect children, whilst others may be common in adults but rare in children and require a different approach. It’s imperative we run clinical trials involving children and young people, to ensure that their treatments are right for younger people and are evidence based”.
A big thank you to all the children and their families that take part in research
“Working in Research gives nurses the opportunity to develop special relationships with families as they journey through a study. By becoming knowledgeable in the speciality and the research process we are able to provide real reassurance to families at sometimes very challenging times in their lives, which I see as a privilege. I think it is extremely generous of families to participate as it takes time and commitment”.
“I have been lucky enough to work on a study previously which had immediate positive impact for participants, which is a great win-win for families and science, but often there is no direct benefit for those involved and it’s even more altruistic of the families who make the commitment. Even if there is no obvious clinical benefit, patients often report how the increased monitoring of a child's condition throughout the research, is rewarding and interesting too”.
“We are very grateful and extend our thanks to all the children, young people and their parents who participate in research”.
For the future
Last year Jacqueline was successful in competing for an award offered by the NIHR Moorfields Clinical Research Facility and Biomedical Research Centre for doctoral studentship tuition fees.
“I am very excited to have just started a nursing PhD programme. I am at the beginning of designing my own research, I feel very lucky to have this opportunity with such a fantastic and very supportive team at Moorfields, together with the expertise of my university supervisors”.
And what does Jacqueline think the future holds for children?
“I think co-production of research ideas, design and processes with children and young people is the way forward for the future. It ensures the research is right for children but also makes research acceptable and increases participation”.
“At Moorfields I am surrounded by colleagues who are excited by innovation and highly dedicated to advancing what we do and what we can offer to patients. I feel very lucky to work within such an inspiring research team”.
“The future is bright for children and young people here”.
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