Date: 07 December 2018
As a junior doctor, involving your patients in research may seem daunting, but it’s easier than you think to take the first step! Research is an exciting, cutting edge field to engage with, and provides your patients with access to the latest trials.
Introducing patients to clinical trials is a great way for them to access alternative treatments, and you don’t have to conduct a trial yourself to get patients involved. It’s as easy as taking a few steps to talk to your R&D team, who should be easily contactable within your trust. Have a conversation is one of the best ways to find out about research in your trust and for learning about ongoing studies.
If you want to get even more involved, research staff and consultants in your specialty will be able to discuss their trials and paths into research, and may be able to offer opportunities to observe or take parts in aspects of a trial. This could provide first-hand experience to understand more about the recruitment process and what’s involved.
To help provide patients with access to relevant research, keep up to date with ongoing trials in your specialty and refer patients to appropriate trials for their condition. Keep in touch with your R&D team or search the Open Data Platform online (https://odp.nihr.ac.uk/qlikview/ ) to find out what studies are open in your area.
Online studies are also a fantastic way for patients, carers, healthy volunteers, and even you to get involved in a study easily. ‘Join Dementia Research’ is a great example of a site where anybody can register their interest in taking part in research, with easy matching to clinical trials for dementia.
You can also utilise your Local Clinical Research Network (LCRN) to build skills and take opportunities to learn more about research. LCRNs will host and promote events in your region, which provide great opportunities to network with clinicians and research staff in the field, while learning more about specific areas of research. Research conferences and specialty-specific events are run regularly at both LCRN offices and at trusts and are advertised widely on the NIHR website: https://www.nihr.ac.uk/news-and-events/events/ .
David Chao, the North Thames Cancer Clinical Specialty Lead, is a strong advocate for the importance of junior doctors learning about clinical research, and said:
"Research is what we do today to make tomorrow better. I cannot stress enough how important it is for our trainees, the next generation of doctors, to be involved with research and change the future."
Taking any of these steps is a great way to offer more to your patients, and a chance for you to learn more and engage with those on the frontline of innovate research.
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