Nursing student’s passion for research shines through

Fri, 19 Mar 2021 16:19:00 GMT
Natalie provides the Council of Deans of Health with a student's perspective
Natalie provides the Council of Deans of Health with a student's perspective

A GCU student has opened up on her experience of being involved in a prestigious conference and how her University journey has inspired her to follow a career in research. 

Third year Adult Nursing student Natalie Elliott was invited to encapsulate the student perspective at the Council of Deans of Health Research Strategy Conference in February. 

Natalie, who’s also the president of the GCU Nursing Society, said: “Last year I’d attended the event as a delegate down in London. During that I networked a bit and I spoke with different people on how to develop my research knowledge.  

I’d also been really active on social media and written a few blogs about my experience with research. The Council of Deans of Health asked me if I would speak at the conference this year and I was delighted to get the opportunity! 

They wanted to hear about my experiences and ideas around how we can get more students involved in research because the more people involved the better outcome for students and the wider public. 

Natalie has already engaged with the Council of Deans of Health through her involvement in the #150 Leaders programme – a campaign designed to encourage and develop healthcare students with leadership potential. This, coupled with placement experience, has helped lay the boundaries for how she wants to support patients in the future.  

She explained: “You’re allocated a coach as part of #150 Leaders and mine was Brendan McCormack, who’s the Head of Nursing at Queen Margaret University Hospital - he’s a huge researcher. Basically if you’re a student nurse you know who Brendan McCormack is because you cite him in every single essay you write about!  

He was so inspirational and I could see how much he’s achieved and the benefits he’s brought to nurses and patients – it was a huge influence. 

Natalie added: “My interest in research also came from a placement during the first wave of the pandemic through the Clinical Research Facility at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary 

It was a great place to be. You never know what to expect on the first day of placement but the staff were amazing. It’s quite rare to see so much passion and enthusiasm on placement from so many different people 

We were involved in doing clinical trials with people who had long-term conditions and looking at what drugs could help them – this definitely made me see the human side of research.  

It was really interesting to find out why people had put themselves forward for it because normally patients don’t have a choice. These people were coming here voluntarily to make a difference to somebody else’s life – which is amazing!” 

Having originally started her nursing career elsewhere, Natalie insists that support from GCU staffalongside her modules, resulted in the perfect blend for her development as she now looks ahead to future job opportunities. 

She explained: “I’d actually tweeted last year about how interested I was in research. Nursing lecturer Gordon Hill messaged me about it and really helped spur me on and mentored me down the research side of things.  

When I first started out as a student, I was at UWS and there wasn’t much focus on research. Since transferring to GCU, I’ve had a module called Evidence Based Practice and I just love it – it seems to be the one I do best in - it’s just the way my mind works I suppose!” 

Natalie added: “In all honesty, I didn’t really know a research nurse existed and that it underpinned our practice for everything we do. I suppose being a nosey person probably helped - I’m so intrigued as to how to make things better and why we do things differently. 

In the future, I’d like to be some sort of clinical academic. This would allow me to spend time on the ward, engaging with patients, while also being involved in research - because I now know the huge difference it can make to people.  

By Ross Clark 
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