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Nurses can play a pivotal role in emergency department research

If you have ever thought you should be involved in research, act on it

The NHS Long Term Plan specifically refers to increasing the number of people involved in research


Heather Jarman with a patient. Picture: Nathan Clarke

All of us working in emergency and urgent care believe patients should receive evidence-based care, but it is possible you have never thought about the research underpinning this.

The NHS Long Term Plan highlights the importance of research and innovation in driving health outcomes, with specific reference to increasing the number of people able to participate in research.

It is often difficult when reading strategy documents to think how they might apply to our everyday practice. It would be easy to say that finding opportunities for patients to take part in research in emergency departments (EDs) is too difficult.

Patients want to take part

I often hear that there is no time for ‘extra’ work or that patients would not be interested in taking part, but this is far from my experience. I am always astounded at the capacity of patients and their relatives to engage in research and their wish to help others, even when participating in a study that might not benefit them immediately.

This view was reinforced when I was contacted by the mother of a severely injured young girl to congratulate me on winning RCNi’s Emergency Nursing Award last year for my work establishing an ED research unit.

‘Why aren’t we involved?’

Her daughter had been enrolled in a clinical trial in the ED nearly five years ago, and she had remembered the time I had taken to explain the study while her child was in intensive care.

Some of you will work in departments with thriving research support but most will not, and you can change that. You may be reading this in the same position that I was in not long ago, thinking, ‘Why aren’t we involved in research?’

It’s a very good question. Nurses can play a pivotal role in research in the ED, and you don’t need to be a research nurse to do it. I wasn’t.

Heather Jarman, Emergency Nursing winner at the 2018 RCNi Nurse Awards, is a consultant nurse in emergency care at St George’s Hospital in London


Further information

NHS Long Term Plan

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