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Eight Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) healthcare professionals have taken their first steps on the clinical academic pathway after presenting the results of their six-month NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) internship research projects.

The internships are aimed at Nurses, Midwives, Allied Health Professionals, Pharmacists and Healthcare Scientists (NMAHPPS) who have little or no research experience.

The BRC award covers salary costs, allowing the interns to have protected time for 15 hours a week for six months.

Each intern was taught core research skills early in the internship and had weekly sessions with an experienced mentor.

The eight interns – two Nurses, five Physiotherapists and a Pharmacist – all carried out a project of their own choosing that related to their clinical practice.

Professor Helen Walthall, Oxford BRC’s NMAHPPS Research Capacity Lead, said: “The internship enables practitioners to put their toe in the water, to see if they would like to do research as a career and to combine clinical practice with research.

“The presentations we’ve seen today have been inspiring. They are very much related to clinical practice, and aimed at moving practice forward for clinicians, patients and carers. It’s been great to see that people want research in their careers, and they want to move forward on the research pathway, while marrying that with their clinical work.”

Professor Walthall, who is also OUH’s Director of Nursing and Midwifery Research and Innovation, added: “The next stage offered by the BRC is the preparatory award, but there are also NIHR national awards, and we will be offering support to apply for those.


The eight interns

The eight interns were:

  • Julia Pond, a Physiotherapist currently working in Cancer Prehabilitation
  • Lara Carnie, a Renal Supportive Care Specialist Nurse
  • Beverley Greensitt, a Physiotherapist in Same Day Emergency Care
  • Mariana dos Santos, a Nurse in the Neurosciences Intensive Care Unit
  • Rachel Tan, a Specialist Pharmacist in Critical Care
  • Georgie Lucas, a Physiotherapist in Trauma Outpatients
  • Federico Gullo, a Physiotherapist in the Musculoskeletal Outpatient Service
  • Laura Bunce, a Physiotherapist currently working in Gynaecology

Beverley Greensitt, whose project explored how same day emergency care units were applying national acute frailty service guidelines with respect to therapy services, said: “I loved doing this internship. The best aspect was having protected time to do some research and that was very beneficial because I’m the only therapist on AAU, and doing clinical work five days a week and trying to put time aside can be quite challenging.

“We also had weekly mentorship, which was really good, and I liked that it was a really safe space to learn. It has really helped me to look at things from a different perspective and problem-solve.”

Julia Pond carried out an evaluation of prehabilitation service provision and pre-operative clinical pathways for major abdominal cancer and transplant surgery. She has already started to apply for the NIHR Pre-doctoral Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship (PCAF) scheme and commented: “This has really opened my eyes to what a career in research can look like, alongside maintaining the clinical aspect – so hopefully developing into the clinical academic role, ideally within cancer services.

“This internship has given me useful skills; looking at how to frame questions and really understanding the planning that goes behind answering these.”

Rachel Tan, whose study was a service improvement project looking at trying to reduce the use of sedatives in ICU, said: “It has been a very valuable experience in terms of providing the mentorship and learning how to use the right methods and methodologies.

“Before this internship, I just wanted to jump straight in to implementing interventions, but through this internship I’ve learned the steps to doing it – for example, writing a good aim, how to do a literature review, how to design a survey properly and how to engage stakeholders – and that has definitely helped me to generate more meaningful data.”

Lara Carnie‘s project aimed to find out the information needs of relatives of loved ones who had decided to stop dialysis. She said: “My project reiterated to me what a difficult time these bereaved people are facing. It’s reminded me that as well as being compassionate, we also need to be clear with the information we are giving.

“I’m very grateful to the BRC for giving me the opportunity, time and funding to do this project but also to my clinical team for releasing me and allowing me to do this research project. Hopefully I’ll be able to give back to the service and share my knowledge with the other nurses I work with.

“As a nurse, it’s quite uncommon to be released for research, but it’s been really positive, and I would encourage other people to do it.”

The Oxford BRC expects to advertise for the next cohort of interns in May 2024.

Pictured: the eight interns

News Categories: Research Education and Training Innovation Healthcare