Stephanie Kelly - Cardiovascular Research Nurse

Stephanie works for the South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust as a Cardiovascular Research Nurse, shes been telling us about working in this field.

Can you tell us how about your job and what you do from day to day?
I work as the Trust’s Cardiovascular Research Nurse which involves managing and coordinating a portfolio of clinical trials. My main responsibilities include the screening and recruitment of eligible patients and ensuring that they are safe and fully informed throughout the trial. The role combines the caring, patient centred aspects of nursing with the more academic side of clinical research. Through my role, I am improving access to new and cutting edge treatments for our cardiac patients within the Trust.

How long have you been in your current role?
I have been in my current post as Cardiology Research Nurse for 3 years now but have worked in cardiology in SEHSCT for over 10 years.

What experience/education is required in order to perform this role?
I have my BSc in Nursing and my PGC in Specialist Practice Cardiology. In addition I have completed many courses over the years including Short Course Cardiology, Adult Life Saving, Good Clinical Practice, Informed Consent and Research Appreciation. I have completed three cardiology modules at Masters level and this year I plan to complete my Masters.

I would say that the main qualities required are excellent interpersonal, communication and organisational skills. Most clinical research involves not only the internal multidisciplinary team of nursing, medical and other professionals (eg, pharmacy, laboratory), but also external organisations (eg, drug companies, charities or universities) who sponsor, monitor or fund the research. Research is a team activity and a successful study relies heavily on the ability to organise and communicate with all these stakeholders.

What is the biggest challenge in your role?
The biggest challenge I have found is the volume of studies we are involved with, which are running consecutively, can be quite overwhelming at times. However once you get organised and on top of what you are doing day-to-day the job is extremely rewarding.

What advice would you give to others looking for a job in your field?
For anyone wanting some basic insight into research within the secondary care setting there is some general training in Good Clinical Practice (GCP) available online. We also have a team of Research Nurses in the Trust who, along with the staff from the Innovation, Research and Development (IRD) Office, are more than happy to discuss different career opportunities. There is information available on the Northern Ireland Clinical Research Network (NICRN) website about the different areas of research we are involved in regionally too.

What do you like best about your role and working in HSC?
Everyday as a Research Nurse is different and I get the opportunity to use a variety of skills because the role has clinical, managerial and educational aspects. Importantly, I still have a lot of contact with patients and am their primary advocate throughout the research process. I think that working in research and development makes a real difference to patient care. Even though it can take time for a new drug or treatment to make its way into standard care, the research experience I can give each of our patient volunteers makes it very worthwhile.