Comment

Vantage point: research should be at the core of nursing

NHS Lothian is nurturing a strong culture of research among its nurses and allied health professionals.
Research

NHS Lothian is nurturing a strong culture of research among its nurses and allied health professionals.

If we are to improve management of long-term conditions, and address the needs of our expanding and ageing population, we need to commission nursing research and make it central to nursing practice.

NHS Lothian employs more than 50 nurses and allied health professionals (AHPs) who have completed or are working towards doctorates. The scope of their studies includes caring for children, caring for older people, hyper-acute care, physical well-being, asthma and mental health disorders.

With our partners in higher education we are developing an agenda in which nursing research is at the core of health and social care.

Nurses see this as an exciting opportunity and our medical colleagues want to support this agenda. We have the combined ambition to make changes to deliver better

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NHS Lothian is nurturing a strong culture of research among its nurses and allied health professionals.

Research
Picture: iStock

If we are to improve management of long-term conditions, and address the needs of our expanding and ageing population, we need to commission nursing research and make it central to nursing practice.

NHS Lothian employs more than 50 nurses and allied health professionals (AHPs) who have completed or are working towards doctorates. The scope of their studies includes caring for children, caring for older people, hyper-acute care, physical well-being, asthma and mental health disorders.

With our partners in higher education we are developing an agenda in which nursing research is at the core of health and social care.

Nurses see this as an exciting opportunity and our medical colleagues want to support this agenda. We have the combined ambition to make changes to deliver better and safer care.

Because we are constricted by the funding we receive, we are also identifying research questions that will help improve efficiency and productivity.

Career progression

We also need to look at academic career progression for those who have completed doctorate-level studies.

Front-line staff often say they have ‘lost’ these highly trained professionals to academic posts, but this is flawed thinking; we are not ‘losing’ them, we are developing and retaining them to generate further research, and to educate the nurses and AHPs of the future.

This process requires a change in how the wider nursing community views staff who want to undertake research as a core part of their job.

Some see this is a ‘nice’ thing to do if only there was time, but nursing research is not a nice add-on – it is part of the core business of nursing. 

I am excited about what we can achieve in research and its potential affect on the development of nursing practice. For this reason, a strong nursing research presence is something we should celebrate.


About the author

Alex_McMahon

Alex McMahon is executive director, nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals, at NHS Lothian. He is also a member of the Nursing Management editorial advisory board

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