Research nurses going global: a research nurse’s experience from India to Glasgow
Have you heard of Global Research Nurses? They are a fabulous organisation (part of the Global Research Network set up by Mr Bill Gates) that supports, guides and informs research nurses around the world. They are especially important to those working in low to mid income areas, who may have fewer resources but carry out very important research. Global Research Nurses is funded by the Burdett Trust for Nursing (www.btfn.org.uk) and lead by Nicola McHugh in Oxford.
Last year, Global Research Nurses and the RCN joined forces to run a contest and the lucky winner was to be flown to Glasgow for the annual RCN Research Conference. The winner was Athira, a research nurse from Trivandrum, India and I had the pleasure of speaking with her during her visit to the UK.
KG: What a delight to finally meet you. Welcome…and I am so sorry that it is so cold! So what has been your biggest impression so far?
AA: Oh my, it has been so overwhelming to be with so many people who also do research but it has also been very inspiring. The RCN is such a prestigious organisation; it is a real privilege to be here.
KG: Can you describe the kind of work you do in India?
AA: I work in the faculty of nursing which is part of a college. I work on government funded studies. I teach, I do clinical supervision of nursing students and I am currently doing my own post graduate research.
KG: How big is the team you work with?
AA: My team consists of 6 members of staff. Some are doctors, others are social scientists and we also have a statistician. They help me refine my protocol and they also help with my statistical analysis.
KG: So you work as a PI? What are you studying?
AA: Yes I am a PI and my research is in type II diabetes, a major health concern in India. I also just completed another project in diabetes that was funded by the state medical board. I was PI for this study and I worked with a team of research assistants who helped with data collection.
KG: I recently read an article comparing research nurses from various countries and it stated that research nurses in India were often PIs and rarely responsible for admin responsibilities. Is this true? Because that made me very jealous!
AA: Ahaha! Well we do get admin support when we are PIs but that is only a small percentage of nurses working in research. Most nurses working in research are responsible for data collection and recruitment and that involves plenty of admin duties.
KG: What do you love most about working in research?
AA: I enjoy every step from refining a research question to data analysis.
KG: So you like being really involved in the research process. And what do you find most challenging?
AA: I think data management, dealing with missing data, just trying to capture everything you need.
KG: What will you take away with you from your trip to the UK and the RCN Conference?
AA: Well, it has been interesting to see how others approach research – seeing the differences between countries. The sharing of experiences with so many nurses from across the world has been wonderful – I am grateful to Global Research Nurses and the RCN for this opportunity. I have been exposed this week to different areas of research and different methodologies; I think that may affect my own approach when I return to India. And I will also take back a lot of Cadbury chocolate!
KG: How do you see research nursing evolving in India?
AA: I think research nursing is in its infancy. It needs refinement. It would be great to have an international collaboration for nurses to run clinical trials. In India, the nurses working in clinical areas rarely get involved in research – but there is hope as more nurse educators are undertaking doctoral programmes and some speciality hospitals are involving nurses in research projects.
KG: Athira, thank you for taking the time to meet and chat, I wish you all the best on your return to India. Let’s keep in touch through Global Research Nurses and thank you again for sharing. It seems some issues in research are global and I think we can only grow in strength by joining forces and supporting each other to raise the bar for nurses and bring our best selves to our work.
You can join the Global Research Nurses here. As a member of Global Research Nurses you gain access to their resources, become connected with other research nurses from around the world and help support those who may work in very challenging research environments.
If you would like to mentor another research nurse through Global Research Nurses, please email firstname.lastname@example.org , she would be delighted to hear from you.