The importance of research nurses

Ahead of International Nurses Day on 12 May, we heard from Aries Maximus Ogbuokiri, the first research and development nurse at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, about the importance of these roles.  

AriesHow did you first get into clinical research?

I started my career as an Accident and Emergency nurse in Rome, Italy, before moving to Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to further my career in emergency medicine. My passion for research started when I found out that the efficacy of some of the first-line treatments and drugs for patients with life-threatening conditions were very low.

My first research role was in respiratory diseases, where studies are run within a quarantine environment. Since then I have gained commercial and non-commercial experience in clinical drug development and clinical trials across a broad range of therapeutic areas.

Can you tell us a little bit about your role?

In my role I will be embedding research in day-to-day clinical practice across South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and facilitating opportunities for nurses to develop their careers as research active clinicians.

I am very passionate about giving patients the opportunity to gain access to cutting edge treatments, to play an active role in their own healthcare, to gain a greater understanding of their condition and to help society by contributing to medical research.

This is your first role at a mental health trust, what drew you to South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust?

I was excited by the opportunity of working at a strategic level within a leading mental health Trust and influencing the development of clinical academic nursing careers. I have worked mainly with Contract Research Organisations (CROs), which conduct trials in partnership with pharma companies, and wanted to be closer to nurses where I felt I could make more of a difference

I believe that real change will only happen from within the NHS, by engaging staff directly in research, by showing the contribution that nurses can make, and by implementing research findings in practice for the benefit of our patients.

What are the main challenges for research nurses?

As an NHS Foundation Trust, we see the different challenges and competing demands facing clinical staff. Research falls into this wider context and so it is important to understand the realities of clinical practice in order to be able to improve the quality and relevance of research.

Why is clinical research within the NHS so important?

Research is essential to finding out which treatments work better for patients. It plays an important role in discovering new treatments and making sure that we use our existing treatments in the best possible ways.

Embedding research in our day-to-day activities will help the NHS to improve the future of healthcare.

What do you enjoy most about working in research?

Getting to know not only your patients’ health, but every aspect of their lives. Helping patients on so many levels, and not only your current patients but patients in the future, is very satisfying.

In your view, how can we make sure that service users and staff at are empowered and encouraged to discuss potential research opportunities?

Clinical staff engage with patients on a regular basis.  They contribute to patients’ experience of care, give patients the opportunity to get involved in research, which could help improve their outcomes, and they play a really important role in providing care that is based on the best possible evidence.

By embedding clinical research in our day-to-day activities, it will empower and encourage staff to discuss potential research opportunities with patients and hopefully increase the number of patients participating in research.

How does working as part of a King’s Health Partners benefit your research?

Working as part of King’s Health Partners allows me to quickly make links with the right people to progress my research. At the moment I am collaborating with researchers at the Institute of Psychology, Psychiatry and Neurosciences (IoPPN), working on a range of memory clinical research studies (a branch of medicine treating memory loss conditions). We are literally working hand in hand to help guide and deliver research projects belonging to PhD students from the IoPPN.

As a Research and Development Nurse Manager I am absolutely committed to making cross-parter collaboration easy. In my role, I will aim to help team members connect, recognise and reward project milestones and get executive buy-in and support from across the partnership.   

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I like to spend time with my family and friends. I recently joined a five-a-side football team where a group of us meet every Thursday or Sunday evening to play football. It's a great workout and has been an excellent way for me to meet new friends!