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From RGN to RN to TM...! (Registered General Nurse/Research Nurse/Trial Manager)

It all began when I was a qualified nurse working in Cardiac surgery. After a few years of gaining valuable experience in several trusts, house moves and getting married, I decided to move into Cardiac research.

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I spent the next 13 years, as a research nurse, working for Professor Taggart, a cardiothoracic surgeon, on the Arterial Revascularisation Trial (ART) managing the Oxford cohort of patients. This was a 10 year RCT following up patients post-surgery via telephone and post with QoL questionnaires. 

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Finally, in 2017, I decided to change roles again and become a trial manager, working for SITU.

I work on two trials, one awaiting publication (TRoMbone)

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 ...the other currently recruiting (PENTAGONS)

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It was a huge learning curve to start with especially being confronted with lots of new paperwork and processes!

But with the help and support of my wonderful SITU colleagues, I made it through. Phew! 

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Having my clinical background has definitely helped with many of the challenges and the day to day running of my trials. Being able to draw on experiences from my clinical days helps when reviewing protocols and patient pathways and how this translates in practice for the patient experience.

Having recruited and followed up patients to trials as a research nurse has helped with patient information sheet/questionnaire and health diary design. Having an understanding of how patients relate to this information often provides a unique perspective into how they will interpret it, their level of understanding and the language used. 

All these stages are an essential part of trial management, however, one of my favourite parts of the role are the site initiation visits and interacting with the site staff. As my colleagues will probably agree... I do like to chat! So this provides an ideal opportunity for me to do this as part of my job.

If I have any advice to give that has helped me in all these roles, it is to communicate as much as possible, admit when you have made a mistake, be open, honest and personable.

Looking back, when I was a newly qualified nurse, I never thought I would choose a career in clinical research; however, it has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and ultimately, at the heart of it, is the benefit to patients... which brings me right back to where I started.