Date: 25 November 2016
We asked two former CRN Division 4 Research Nurses for their perspectives on the MRes in Clinical Research; Laura Dalrymple has just completed a year long course while Courtney Bowen has just started one.
Undertaking a Masters can be a tough venture but the prospects and opportunities for knowledge, growth and progress in your area of expertise can be significant. For these two CRN South London staff members, embarking on a Masters in Clinical Research has been insightful to say the least.
Prior to starting in September 2015, Laura had been working in research for two years and had a series of qualifications under her belt; a Psychology BSc and PG-Dip in Mental Health Nursing.
Through her prior studies she saw that research was a key component of mental health healthcare: “[I] saw how pivotal research was to providing excellent care, ensuring day-to-day practice is evidence-based and prioritising patient health and safety,” she said.
She saw the MRes as a way to: “build on the work experience I had already gained at the CRN in mental health and neurology studies, and fuel the passion I have developed over the last eight years of working in health and supporting health innovation.”
For Courtney, she was also with the CRN South London as a research nurse when she learnt about the Workforce Development opportunities available to her; the NIHR-funded Masters in Clinical Research sparked a particular interest.
“In seeking to find out more, I came to understand that the course is designed to encourage and fund healthcare practitioners to gain valuable knowledge, experience and skills in conducting clinical research; within their field of clinical expertise,” she said.
“Having worked as a mental health nurse prior to my role as a research nurse, I thought it sounded like the perfect opportunity for me to draw on both my clinical experience and the research awareness and skills I had acquired in my current role.”
Courtney has high expectations for the course and feels that studying for a Masters offers great prospects for the future: “Although it may seem a long way off, I’m hoping that by the end of the course I will have conducted a research project that contributes towards our understanding of how to improve healthcare services, and through this I will have learnt valuable and important skills in how to conduct clinical research.
“Having only been enrolled on the course a few months, I have learnt a great deal already. Developing a research proposal, conducting a study and writing up the findings in a year is definitely no walk in the park; but the teaching, support and research opportunities offered make it definitely worth the challenge.”
Having already completed her studies, Laura commented that the Masters “helped to underpin my knowledge in health research and has given me more confidence in being able to develop my own studies and carry them out from inception, ethics, and recruitment/field work to write up.
For anyone willing to embark on a Masters in Clinical Research, the benefits and impact it has on the student and the work place can be significant and profound. After completing her studies in September this year, Laura has found her Masters has proved to be influential in how she would like to move forward in her career:
“As clinicians continue to work towards providing the best care possible for patients, I think we will find that more nurses and non-medical professionals will support high level research through PI positions and other high level research posts,” she said: “I hope that this training puts me in good stead to become one of these people.
“I have recently taken up a new post as a Senior Research Coordinator with the Parkinson's and Neuro-oncology team at King’s where I hope to work to support improvements in patient treatment, publish quality papers and support the great work the team is already doing there.”
A Masters, or pursing any kind of Workforce Development opportunity, can be daunting and challenging but Laura and Courtney feel the rewards significantly outweigh the drawbacks. Laura concluded:
“The NIHR offers a great opportunity for those interested in research to pursue their interest further without risking high fee overheads and giving up work.”
To find out more, visit the NIHR Masters in Clinical Research webpage.
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