Student Research Placements

Image ©️ Emma Heron

The Council of Deans has released a report affirming the value of research placements for students. As a research nurse, this is something that doesn’t surprise me at all. I’ve seen first hand the value of working directly with students who are on a placement with the clinical research team – and it works both ways by the way, it’s not just the student that benefits.

I’m particularly interested, however, in the release of the report at this time. A time where research has played a key role in the pandemic and I wonder if it signals a shift in how research is perceived and valued as an area of healthcare in itself.

So, why should we be encouraging placements in research. Well, as the report states:

Learning about research is not only relevant for those who want to work in clinical research or who may
be interested in an academic career, but to every single healthcare professional. It is vital in understanding
what good practice is – students need to recognise why they are doing things not just how to do them.”

A few years ago, a placement with a research team may have signaled anxiety, concern, and dismay from a student. I know because I have seen it many times over on twitter and anecdotally in practice. The brave and curious completed their placement, and feedback from those students I’ve personally encountered has been very positive. But I think the success of the placement relies very heavily on the planning of the placement and this takes commitment and creativity on behalf of the clinical research team who is working with the student.

In more recent times I’ve noticed a change and an interest in research – and not just since the pandemic. I’ve written before about how research has historically been viewed as a bit of an “add on” – I’m hoping that with the changes we’ve seen over the past year and the narrative we see more generally within our profession are indicating a shift. It will be interesting to see if it will be an area that has it’s value firmly embedded for the part it plays in providing high quality patient care.

6 thoughts on “Student Research Placements”

  1. I’m interested in how research placements are facilitated for students. I enjoyed a research placement as my elective in third year . However, it’ was a bit ‘bitty’ spending time with various specialities was great but sometimes the nurses weren’t sure what to do with me.
    I’d considered the idea of having a research week that sits within a placement area such as gynaecology. That way the student develops knowledge in gynae and then spends a week looking at research in that area working with the research team. A day could be spent on GCP and informed consent. The idea is that it links research theory to clinical practice which I found difficult to grasp the theory module and have had students saying similar. Seeing research in practice is what we need to drive and improve healthcare services and improve patient outcomes.

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    1. All really good ideas thank you Chrissie. I think it’s an area that is changing at the moment as people work out what the best ways are to ensure the student gets the best experience. A research week is a really interesting idea.

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  2. Hi there, I listened to your recent podcast about your role, which was great. I was already interested in this area. I am on the Mental Health Nursing degree in the Southwest. Sadly, I haven’t been able to attend placements since Jan 2020 due to shielding but when I do finally get back to placements, I’d love to experience research as I’ve always thought about working in that area. My question is, would there be openings to this role on graduation or do you have to go out and about a bit more? I’m wanting to go straight into it as I will be 50 when I graduate and have lots of other work and life experience hence wanting to get on with where I want to be. Thanks in advance if you have time to answer. Georgina

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  3. Hi, I enjoyed listening to you being interviewed on the podcast. I have been interested in working in research. I am studying to be a Mental Health Nurse (technically in my 3rd year but due to covid and shielding, I have only been out on one placement. Hoping that changes soon). I have already been told that I may be given a research placement in the Southwest but when I am not sure. My question is, are you able to go straight into a research role (or trainee position) straight from graduation or do you have to work within different fields first? I will be 50 when I graduate and would want to “get on” with working in my chosen field. Due to my age, I do have transferrable work and life skills. Thanks in advance. Georgina

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment that’s great to hear.

      You can do whatever you want to when you graduate 😊 Research is a specialism in itself and while it can be helpful to have a few areas you are confident in, you can learn a lot when you are in post.

      The only thing I’d say is that a lot of teams advertise for band 6’s so it might be a bit more do difficult to find a band 5 but there are lots of opportunities and if you can’t see anything straight away, find out who your local research delivery team are and give them a ring 😊

      If I can be of any help give me a shout on twitter or possibly on here I’m not sure how easy it is to chat on this platform!

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      1. Thank you, that’s really helpful. I am very interested to learn more. I hope I get to go on the research placement they have suggested. I tried to say thanks via twitter msg but it wouldn’t let me. I will try to find out where my local Bristol/North Somerset team is and see if I can lookout for opportunities or grab a chat. Thanks again!

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