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The diary of a student: My experience of working in Research and Improvement

Meredith Turner shares her experience of working at the Academy during her student placement.

Before gaining my student placement at the Academy of Research and Improvement, research to me was in a laboratory wearing a white coat. Oh how I was wrong!

I chose my placement at Solent NHS Trust after really enjoying my research modules at university. I have always wanted to work in the NHS, but my path has never felt clear. I have balanced between wanting to be clinical and wanting to be clerical – so hearing this post which was a mixture of the two seemed like a dream!

I started my role in the Academy by shadowing each discipline for a few weeks. I quickly settled into Adult Mental Health (AMH) and have stayed here ever since. What I loved about working alongside the AMH team was the diversity, the amount of clinical contact and the uniqueness of every study. I felt trusted and just as valuable as any other member of the team which has made me feel right at home.

My experience of working within community care has been so positive. I never really thought about what goes on in community care before now, when I thought about healthcare I thought of hospitals! Now I can’t imagine working in another setting. I love attending outpatient clinics and visiting patients at home. I feel like community care is where real life happens and I am enjoying being a part of it.

My duties in the team are broad. I love this as I'm able to get involved in many different things. My roles in the team include helping to facilitate the delivery of research studies by keeping up to date with the documentation and accompanying the researchers out on their visits. I have been given lots of opportunities to take part, helping out with; swabbing at parents’ evenings, taking health measurements at depot clinics, attending interesting conferences and even gaining some shadowing opportunities on mental health wards. My experiences have even stemmed to getting involved with patient engagement and communications within the team, working largely on putting together the new Academy of Research and Improvement website.

Any advice I’d offer to a healthcare student wondering where their path lies, try research! It really is a dynamic, all-encompassing area. How many people can say they spent Monday working in Physiotherapy, Tuesday working in Mental Health and Wednesday in Paediatrics?! In the seven months I have been here, my knowledge, confidence and awareness of what opportunities are out there has grown incredibly. And of course – I now know that not all researchers work in labs!


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