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Today, Friday 12th May, is International Nurses Day. This annual day is an excellent opportunity to honour the hard work and dedication of nurses who provide essential care to patients in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings. It also serves as a reminder of the important role nurses play in improving global health outcomes.

International Nurses Day also provides a chance to reflect on the importance of research nurses who work in clinical trials. Such nurses are essential to the development of new treatments and therapies for a wide range of medical conditions. They work closely with patients, physicians, and other healthcare professionals to ensure that clinical trials are conducted safely and efficiently.

We hope you enjoy the following interview with Sam Edwards, nurse practitioner and invaluable part of the clinical trials research network at Oxford.

Why did you want to become a nurse?

 At the age of sixteen I started working in healthcare in a small local nursing home. Providing care and compassion to patients gave me job satisfaction and led me into the career path of nursing. At the age of 34 I began my professional nurse training at Brookes University in Oxford. Two years post-graduation I made a transition into clinical research. I wanted to become a nurse to improve health care across the NHS.


How long have you been a research nurse?

 After qualifying as a registered nurse in 2010 I began my nursing career as a community staff nurse attached to GP practice. The practice had started to develop interest in clinical research, and I became the research champion for the practice. Following on from this role I joined the neurodegenerative clinical research team based at the John Radcliffe hospital in 2012. Throughout my 11 years in clinical research, I have worked as a research nurse, NIHR research facilitator, and matron for the CRN Greater Manchester network.


What drew you to working as a nurse in clinical trials, and the Oxford Respiratory Trials Unit specifically?

Working on clinical trials provides potential treatment options to participants with an aim to improve their clinical diagnoses. COVID-19 highlighted the need for respiratory research. I developed an interest in respiratory research after working on UPH (Urgent Public Health) studies such as PRINCIPLE and PANORAMIC.


Walk me through a day in your life as a nurse with the Oxford Respiratory Trials Unit

Although I work currently in clinical research management, I still ensure that I work clinically alongside research health care professionals. This is a very brief description—I could talk about my working day for hours and hours!

  • Emails, patient/monitor visit prep, team meetings
  • Participant research visit, study set up
  • Intervention, schedule of events as per protocol
  • Emails, screening, study documentation
  • Data completion/upload
  • Meeting with team/colleagues, emails, working on tasks
  • Planning for the next day
  • Sleep zzzzz


Tell me about a challenging aspect of your job:

To be a clinical research nurse you need to be flexible in your working day and be aware that each day can be different. This can sometimes be challenging, however, with delegation and study priority strategies this is overcome. Management duties can also sometimes be a bit difficult.


What is a rewarding aspect of your job?

Improving treatment outcomes and providing excellence and cutting-edge research is the most rewarding factor of my role. I appreciate being able to give my participants a choice to take part in clinical research.


Can you comment on the importance of nurses to clinical trials?

Clinical research nurses are the fundamentals of research. They are the hands and feet of each study. Working in collaboration with research fellows, these nurses are the inner core of the study, often being an advocate for study participants.


What makes PANORAMIC such a unique clinical trial to work on?

I started working on PANORAMIC in my CRN Matron role for CRN GM throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. UPH studies at that time were the only hope of moving out and taking control of the pandemic. PANORAMIC not only investigates the efficacy of potential future treatments/antivirals for the population but also provides participants the chance to be part of cutting-edge research. This unique study evolves daily, and recruitment is fast paced making this study exciting.


For International Nurses Day 2023, the theme is ‘Our Nurses. Our Future’. What would you like to see more of in nursing? What do you consider to be the future of nursing?

I would like to see research incorporated into nurse training! Currently, research is discussed within nurse training, but I would like to see more in-depth learning and research modules introduced. Research placements are starting to be introduced into the three-year student nurse programs. These placements will give students a better understanding of the clinical research career pathway.

I would also like to see research engagement continue and expand in the social care sector. Schools, care homes, prisons, and other social establishments should be given the opportunity to participate in research to improve and find new treatment options. Working across the social care sector also gives participants access to research options away from the acute (hospital) setting. The future is bright!

Opinions expressed are those of the author/s and not of the University of Oxford. Readers' comments will be moderated - see our guidelines for further information.


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