Little r you shall go to the ball.

DSCN1166As we move into the festive season a light hearted post to end the year with informed by the many occasions I have sat in meetings and listened to discussions about how to engage more healthcare professionals with research. There is usually a point in the discussion when someone raises the need to find a different word for research…

As the curtains rise we find ourselves in the drawing of the HadEnoughs as it’s approaching time to leave for the NHS Christmas ball, the biggest event of the year by far. Everyone is starting to assemble looking resplendent in their brightly coloured glittering ball gowns and fine jewellery. What a night this is going to be.

The last to come donwstairs is the youngest of the sisters, little r, and as she walks through the door there are gasps of horror from the rest of the family. ‘What do you think you’re doing? You know we can’t take you to the ball looking like that, where is your disguise? You know if you go as yourself, everyone gets nervous around you. No one will want to know us or dance with us’ cried her sisters. ‘Mother make her go and change immediately’. Mrs H turned to little r and with a tender smile said, “I’m sorry little r but you know they are right. Go and put on your cape of evaluation and your shoes of improvement and be quick about it we can’t be late.’ Little r started to reply but knowing when she was beaten turned around and went back upstairs to change. No one noticed that as she went that she shrunk another millimetre.

As they approached the ballroom the mellow light of candles shone from the windows, and a magnificent tree, adorned with candles, graced the entrance hall. As the orchestra struck up the sisters ran up the steps not wanting to miss a moment. Little r followed at a distance tripping over her ill-fitting cloak as she climbed the steps, her feet crammed into uncomfortable shoes. She longed for the day she could throw off her disguise and dance like everyone else but instead with a sigh made her way upstairs to the drawing room where she knew she wouldn’t be disturbed.

In the peace and quiet of the room with the crackle of the fire for company little r kicked off her shoes, threw down the cloak and closed her eyes. The next thing she knew she felt a gentle caress on her cheek and sat up with a start to find Prince Recherche kneeling by her side. ‘Why are you here all alone when there is so much fun downstairs he asked?’

‘The only way I’m allowed to step foot downstairs is in disguise’ replied little r, ‘because if I come as myself I make people anxious and would spoil the ball. I have to wear the cloak of evaluation and the shoes of improvement but the trouble is neither feels right, they drag me down and force me to be someone I am not. They don’t fit me and I hate the way they make me feel. Every time I’m asked to put on this disguise something inside of me is lost and I shrink by another millimetre, that’s why I’m called little r. Soon I am going to be so small I will disappear. I feel so alone.’

Looking deep into her eyes Prince Recherche shook his head, ‘where have you been all year, what do you mean alone! While that great old cloak has been covering you up a revolution has been taking place, let me show you’. From a massive pocket in his jacket he pulled out a snow globe and shook it up. Little r was astounded to see not snowflakes falling but millions of little messages fluttering down, all starting the same #whywedoresearch. ‘Lift it to your ear and if you listen carefully you will hear thousands and thousands of tweets from people all over the country who love you’ he said.

‘You mean I no longer have to pretend to be something I’m not? I can really, really just be myself?’ laughed R as she jumped up and stamped on the cloak of evaluation, grabbed the shoes of improvement and hurled them out of the window. ‘I’m meeeeeee’ she laughed as she danced around the room. Prince Recherche clicked his fingers and as if by magic a lady-in-waiting appeared. ‘Yes you are indeed you but you can’t go downstairs looking like that. Ella will help you change into something more fitting.’

A few minutes later the doors opened. The drab cloak had been replaced by a wonderful black dress, understated, elegant and timeless. The ill fitting clod hoppers had been replaced by a wonderful pair of Louis Vuitton shoes, their black classic elegance offset by their sassy, kickass red soles and R’s hair had been swept up accentuating her new found height.

‘There is just one thing missing’ said Prince Recherche and from his pocket took out the most dazzling, glittering, diamond necklace, “to show off your true beauty and your many different facets’ he said as he threw open the doors of the drawing room with such relish that they crashed against the wall. Everyone assembled below turned their eyes upwards. There were gasps all around as Prince Recherche walked down the stairs with the most breathtaking tall, beautiful, elegant woman they had ever seen.

The orchestra struck up a waltz and the couple swept onto the floor and as they whirled around Prince Recherche whispered into R’s ear, ‘never let anyone disguise you again, you shine so brightly, you cannot be dimmed and no matter what anyone says never ever let anyone call you something you are not.

Wishing you all a very happy festive season.




Promote: moving forward into action

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 13.03.40This is the final post on Promotion within the EPIC model for emergent health researchers.

The first post on this component of the model explored why promoting research to service users is an important activity for any healthcare professional to engage in and the previous post provided some insights into how promoting research can contribute to the development of research skills and expertise. In this post attention turns to some of the specific activities you can engage in to promote research.

Increasing your understanding and awareness of what is happening within your organisation: A starting point for every emergent researcher should be to ensure that you are informed about the kinds of research being undertaken by your colleagues, including the medical teams you work with.

Find out what studies they may be involved in and how people find out about them currently, ask if they are looking to recruit participants and if this is something you can help with? Similarly contact your R&D department and increase your knowledge about the wider research activity within your organisation. If you are in a research active clinical environment there may well be research nurses working into your unit who will also be able to tell you about the studies they are involved in.

Don’t worry that your knowledge about research is limited, the participant information sheets have to be written in plain English to enable potential participants to understand clearly what would be required if they were to take part in the study. Therefore you will be able to understand them as well.

Don’t worry either about needing to explain the detail of studies to potential participants, this is not what you are being asked to do. The participant information sheets give contact details for anyone wanting to find out more information.

Explore national campaigns: Alongside research being undertaken within your organisation there are also examples of national campaigns such as Join Dementia Research developed by National Institute for Health Research in partnership with Alzheimer ScotlandAlzheimer’s Research UK and Alzheimer’s Society. This campaign enables people with dementia, their carers and anyone over the age of 18 without dementia to register their interest in participating in dementia research and to be matched to suitable studies. It is in effect a national database for matching people interested in participating in dementia research with researchers seeking participants. So far over 13,000 people have registered their interest but the campaign is wanting to involve as many people as possible.

Increase your understanding of the perspectives, motivation and experiences of people who have taken part in research. Health Talk has a series focused on taking part in medical research and provides different perspectives of what its like to be involved in research.

Another excellent resource to explore is the NIHR Clinical Research Networks’ series Research Changed My Life which currently contains  18 short films and video diaries from people whose lives have been transformed by clinical research.

Alongside this learn about the Patient Research Ambassador Initiative  from NIHR. Patient research ambassadors may, if they have experience of a specific condition, work with a particular clinical department or, if not, work in a more general way within on organisation to gain an overview of how it makes its research available to potential participants. If you are working in the NHS in England find out if your Trust has a Patient Research Ambassador. 

Increase the visibility of opportunities to take part in research within your working environment. If a secret shopper were to visit your department would they know, by looking around, that opportunities for research might exist. Where does such information show up on your notice boards or displays. What kind of information is available to them and in what formats? Is this something you could work on with colleagues?

Mark International Clinical Trials day in your calendar. International Clinical Trials Day is on or near the 20 May each year, the exact date for 2016 isn’t yet available, but around that time why not find out what your Trust R&D department are doing to celebrate the day. The day seeks to raise awareness of the importance of research to health care highlighting how partnerships between patients and healthcare practitioners are vital to high-quality, relevant research. 

Better still why not plan an event yourself. It doesn’t have to be a massive event, it could be a set time that you have information available to colleagues and patients focused around the It’s OK to Ask Campaign or you might suggest a lunchtime speaker in the department.

These are just some ideas of the kinds of activities you can undertake to develop your expertise in promoting research but the most important thing of all is to realise the potential you have to make a difference to people’s lives and improved health outcomes if you see an essential aspect of your role as being to ensure that you inform as many people as possible about opportunities open to them to take part in research.


Develop your skills by promoting research

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 13.03.40

The previous post focused on what it means, within the EPIC model for emergent health researchers, to promote research, specifically exploring why it’s especially important to promote the opportunity to participate in research to service users.


This post will expand upon this by considering how you can use the promotion of research to increase  your engagement with the research community within your organisation and how it will contribute to the development of your research skills and expertise.

Promotion is defined as to:

Give publicity to a product or venture so as to increase public awareness.

This requires you therefore to firstly take responsibility for increasing your awareness of the research that is being undertaken currently within your clinical area and secondly to actively promote it to service users.

To revisit a question posed in the previous post how much do you really know about the research being undertaken by your clinical colleagues at the moment? It’s worth reflecting on this for a moment, especially if your answer is “not a lot”.

As with all of the components of the EPIC model promoting other peoples’ research will require you to play an active role in the research process and increase your confidence in talking about research. Talking with patients about research is a skill that all researchers have to learn and there is no better time to start learning this one than now.

Many Trusts are developing innovative and engaging ways to promote opportunities to participate in research which move beyond the usual leaflets and posters. Here are a few examples to explore from Nottingham University Hospitals , The Walton Centre, which is designed to play on monitors in outpatient departments, and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics which is aimed at young people. If you are interested in how organisations are also working together to promote research to potential participants another project worth exploring further is Citizen Science Salford . Each of the links will give you an insight into some of the ways in which opportunities to engage in research are being promoted currently.

How does this help to develop your skills and expertise as an emergent researcher? As with the previous post on Explore I’ll locate the answer to this question within the four domains of the  Vitae researcher development framework.

1.Knowledge and intellectual abilitiesJ3BF-Iv8ELHfDuWSrVsEpJdBYhTQyrHcEUA4Ra5Ksvo

You will learn more about research in general and specifically the studies that you are promoting; you will need to take the information you have been given from colleagues and synthesise it and communicate it to a different audience; you will need to explain, in broad terms, why the research is being undertaken and why it is important.

2. Research governance and organisationUoJ7fk51Uw81EooDL1JitKWPyzXmM4VEmd-S_bEuT98

As you talk more with research active colleagues you will increase your understanding of how research is managed, funded and resourced; you will increase your skills and confidence in approaching and talking with potential participants in a professional and appropriate manner; you will gain an insight into how the recruitment process of research is managed.

2. Personal effectivenessFNOuqLb-428U0Z3n-PwYf-nTeN4lRRUbppwweUuAVB8

Your interest in promoting research will be an outward indication of your interest in and enthusiasm for research; your discussions will increase your self-confidence in engaging with researchers and potential participant alongside increasing your networks and your reputation as someone who is keen to become more involved in research.

One of the reasons given for not informing patients about potential research is that it often gets forgotten within a busy clinical session. There is a skill to working out how and when to provide people with information during a clinical session. Before you promote research to someone you will need to familiarise yourself with the information you are giving and think about what you are going to say to ensure that the information is passed on effectively.

4. Engagement, influence and impactScreenshot 2015-12-01 10.10.55



Research is a team endeavour and requires different input at different stages of the process. Supporting recruitment to studies makes you a valuable part of the team.  As you talk with colleagues about their research, show an interest and actively provide information to potential participants you are moving from a passive role of ‘being interested’ into a more active role of supporting recruitment.

Applied health research cannot take place without the involvement of patients, we have already explore how important it is to patients to be informed about research they may be interested in taking part in, we have explored how, as a healthcare professional it is something we are committed to doing through the NHS constitution and we have now explored how promoting research can support your development if you are an emergent researcher.

The next post will be the final post linked to the promotion of research and will explore how you can move forward into action in this component of the EPIC model.