My afternoon with Kings College Hospital’s ACET Research Team

Posted on by Kelly Gleason in Collaborative Network, Professional Development, Research

On a hot summer afternoon I made my way to King’s College Healthcare Trust to meet the ACET Research Team.  They contacted me following a Clinfield email offering any team to be featured in a blog post. I love initiative so I was really looking forward to meeting them and hearing all about their work.

First impressions were that these people were both delightful and dynamic. Energy and optimism seemed to bubble around them.  They looked and talked like a team from the minute I met them.  As we talked and they showed me around, I learnt that they have bucket loads of enthusiasm and passion for what they do but even more they have talent and strong intuition that leads them to make great decisions and create an environment that is allowing them to grow, develop and thrive.

Here are my top three reasons why I think this team is going places:

They intuitively make decisions that lead to success. This team has been around for a while but they recent grew, significantly. They have several new team members who are also new to research.  They were hired to work in different specialities: anaesthetics, emergency medicine and critical care but they chose to come together as one large team and cover all clinical areas.  This has allows them to learn about different clinical specialities and ensure more adequate cover of their study portfolio. One person leads on a given study but everyone is aware of the entire portfolio. They share the opportunity to improve practice in all areas.

They also chose to brand themselves and develop a team identity.  They call themselves the ACET Research Team (Anaesthetics, Critical Care, Emergency and Trauma Team) and have one contact number where they can be reached.  This makes it easier for clinical areas to remember who to call, and I imagine the MHRA inspectors will like this too.

Intuitively they seem to follow what makes them stronger and more effective.  They create an environment that fosters interdependence, creativity and growth.  They are establishing a strong identity and this I think is helping them be known in all three clinical areas. They cover several units, many of which are very large and very busy.  They have a presence in all clinical areas and work very hard to make themselves known. This brings me to point number two.

They understand the importance of integration. They seem to understand that the success of their studies depends on the cooperation of all clinical staff.  This is made very obvious in areas like the Emergency Department where decisions must be made quickly and patients need to be considered for studies as they are being assessed.

The ACET Research team have tackled integration from various angles (trying many different approaches to achieve a common goal is a very effective way to succeed- this works well for recruitment strategies too but that’s a topic for another blog).

The team have initiated bi-monthly lectures on the research taking part in their departments.  The lectures take place in a meeting room in a clinical area making easy for all staff to attend.  Sometimes the talk is given by a PI other times a member of the research team.  These lectures serve to bring the research to life, demonstrate why the research is important and how it could affect patient care and outcomes. What a fantastic way to change culture and imbed research into care!

A new member of staff also came up with the idea of doing a research week and road show to better acquaint all staff with the current portfolio. The team held research weeks in ITU and ED with a third week planned for the Anaesthetic Department in October.  They know staff are busy and need to be at the patient’s bedside, so they made their road show mobile using a mobile notice board and a mobile table. Their table had information about the team as well as the portfolio, a quiz, a prize draw and of course sweets. They had also made small stickers with the team’s name and contact number for staff to stick at the back of their name badges which makes it easier for everyone to access the team wherever they are.

The team also have plans to integrate themselves clinically as the units grow and change.  Kings has plans for major development of these services which will open in 2015. Currently, some members of the team are part time research and part time clinical. I believe this integration must be helpful in embedding research in every day care.

The ACET research team make integration a core focus of their work, something that is essential to the success of their studies and the improvement of patient care.

They have strong support and leadership.  The ACET Research Team seems to also be blessed with support, from both medical and nursing leadership.  The nurses stated they felt supported to develop as professionals, something they had not experienced in other jobs. They felt their ideas were encouraged.

If they had an idea be to help ensure the success of their existing portfolio like the road show, they were supported and PI’s even tweeted about their efforts. If their idea was to develop a nursing research question and project, then that too was backed and encouraged.  One nurse is currently completing his PhD and new staff members are finding the courage in this supportive environment to discuss and develop their own research questions.

They also shared something which I thought was very insightful. Through embarking on their journey as researchers, they have learned to be open and share their ideas.  This has meant being open to challenge and sometimes criticism of one’s thoughts and ideas. They shared that this is not an easy but learning from the experience and constructive criticism of others is a necessary and rich learning aspect of research.  As one nurse commented, “Because isn’t that the whole point of research, that we could be wrong?”

This made me wonder if this is something that holds us back as nurses from trying our hand at research, our fear of not getting it right, of being criticised and not doing it perfectly the first time. We often talk about the lack of time or support but could it that underneath that we feel we need to get it right from the beginning?  How many of us would try if we gave ourselves permission to just do our best and learn from our efforts?  After all, we don’t expect babies to walk perfectly on their first attempt? Maybe we could take some of the compassion and understanding we offer others and give ourselves the chance to give our own research a try?

Their support from medical colleagues in developing their nursing research ideas also makes this a more multidisciplinary approach.  Could that also be a good learning model?  Learn from others with more experience in leading research projects regardless of discipline?

It had a truly delightful afternoon at King’s.  I left inspired by this team.  They have so many of the important characteristics for success and an environment that allows them to grow, expand and be creative as professionals. I look forward to watching their progress and to hearing more about their personal research adventures.

 I hope they will share some of their secrets and success with us at this year’s conference and that you too get to meet this dynamic team.


“I would like everyone to feel that they are invested in research and to understand how central it is to improving outcomes for our patients, even if it is not the focus of their own practice.”  Alex

“As an ED staff nurse I feel like I learn a little bit about a lot of things – and I don’t have time for more depth than that!  Being a research nurse and needing to understand the nitty gritty of trial protocols gives me an excuse to spend time really learning about the area of care being studied.  It’s satisfying to get beneath the surface, and to be able to apply that knowledge on my clinical shifts, as well as share it with my colleagues as part of the teaching we give about our trials.“ Harriet

“What I enjoy most in this job is when I am talking to a patient in follow-up clinic or when they are about to be discharged from hospital, after they have been in a study. Knowing you have followed them throughout their patient journey, they have done well and hoping you have made the process a little bit better. “  Sian




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