First; a bit of history about me and how my reason for doing research has changed during my research career to date.
I started out as a Research Physiotherapist, getting involved in local small-scale research projects because my manager told me I “asked too many questions” about why we did the things we did! It was a fantastic opportunity to help shape a protocol, collect data and analyse the results. I really appreciate now why research takes so long to develop and how hard it is to disseminate and embed in practice.
I guess my very first #WhyWeDoResearch was “to better understand Physiotherapy treatments and promote evidence based practice”.
My #WhyWeDoResearch at that stage was “to provide the best care and evidence for patients and their families and offer as many people as possible the opportunity to take part in research”.
Later, as a Lead Research Practitioner, I was overseeing a large portfolio of studies, across all therapeutic areas. It was about this time that the #WhyWeDoResearch community was developing and Twitter became a really empowering platform. We connected with teams across the country and internationally to better understand our shared challenges in delivering research.
The opportunity to move into a commercial role came about last year and whist I had not considered this avenue before; I knew it would broaden my horizons and provide a new clinical research experience. I was nervous about making the transition. I worried that I’d be surrounded by people who thought differently to me and I’d feel torn between my clinical background and a corporate, profit driven environment.
I won’t pretend it hasn’t been a massive adjustment. Working for a CRO does feel very different to the NHS and I have had to adapt my management style as I find myself leading a team of Clinical Research Associates (CRAs), some of whom I only see face to face a couple of times a year. The global nature of the company means that I liaise with Project Leads from all over the world and overcoming time-zones and language barriers is a must. As a CRO we are trying to meet our customers (the Sponsors) expectations whilst relying on and working with the Investigators and site teams to ensure patient safety and data quality. We have a multitude of metrics and timelines that we are measured against and of course as a business, revenue is an important factor.
However; the thing that has really struck me is that whenever I talk to my colleagues about why they do research; fundamentally their reasons are the same as mine. Patient care and driving improvements in diagnosis and treatment really is at the core of why they do what they do. I’ve seen it at every level of the company. I’m astounded by how many people I’m surrounded by with a clinical background; my manager is a Medic, above her a Nurse, above him a Dentist and above him a Nurse. They all have their stories and experiences of where there are still unanswered questions in their field of expertise and they are all driven by a desire to continue improving healthcare outcomes.
I think there is a lot to be gained from sharing lessons and experiences across healthcare delivery and commercial research organisations. The more we understand about each other’s environments, our strengths and our limits, the more collaborative and effective we become in delivering better patient outcomes.
I’ll end on my current #WhyWeDoResearch which is to “offer new treatment opportunities to patients and ensure their wellbeing and safety is at the heart of what we do”.