Ben Hood a Cancer Research UK Senior Nurse at Newcastle’s Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre has been named a finalist for this year’s Royal College of Nursing Awards.
This is the second time in as many years that Ben has been shortlisted for the “Excellence in Cancer Research Nursing” category. This year he was nominated by the centre’s manager, Chris Barron in recognition of Ben’s efforts over the last three years to ‘demystify and increase awareness of the role of a clinical research nurse in cancer services’.
During this time Ben explored how much awareness there was of clinical nursing research in undergraduate education, which included holding education sessions to over 2000 nursing students. Early insights showed that there was little awareness of what the role of a clinical research was, and so was not consider research as a viable career option.
Understanding research nursing and its impact on clinical care
As Ben’s three year project progressed, his work began to transform students’ understanding of the role of research nursing and its impact on clinical care, and has already shown a significant impact on student nurses considering a clinical research role in the field of cancer care upon graduation.
Chris explained: “There have been longstanding problems recruiting into nursing research roles and this is no exception in the field of cancer care. The National Experimental Cancer Medicine (ECMC) Nurse Steering Group has been concerned for some time that the lack of awareness and interest was having a detrimental effect on the delivery of early and late phase cancer research, where clinical trials offer in many cases, treatments to cancer patients who have no treatment options available to them.”
Ben volunteered to develop a pilot project with the aim of highlighting the role of clinical cancer nursing research, the outcome of which could be replicated across the UK.Chris Barron, Manager of the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre
As well as delivering this educational project in the North East of England, Ben worked in partnership with colleagues at Edinburgh Cancer Research UK, and subsequently developed a module of e:learning resources. These include videos showcasing clinical trial cancer nurses describing their roles and giving advice to students about considering the role upon graduating, as well as interviews with clinical trial patients explaining their journey from standard care into clinical trial research.
Piloting an e:learning course with local universities
With funding support from the NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) via a grant application for ‘ Learning Technologist’ support, Ben further honed the resources and is to pilot an e:learning course with local universities during the remainder of 2020, with a view this becoming a national module in the near future.
Of the nomination Chris added: “Throughout this project, Ben has shown incredible commitment and drive, using his own initiative to develop educational interventions through creative means; published articles, videos, presentations, social media, e-learning and even initiated a national strategy.
“Before Ben started his presentations, 75% of students didn’t know what a research nurse’s role was, and of the 25% who did, a quarter of those thought the role was non-clinical.
“Afterwards, 99.7% of students were aware of the role, understanding it to be clinical and 63% of students said they would consider a role as a research nurse on graduation.
His work has certainly been instrumental in helping to demystify the role in clinical trials nursing and we look forward to seeing the impact of the new e:learning course in the future.Chris Barron, Manager of the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre
Of his achievements so far Ben says: “Hopefully being a finalist for this award will highlight the amazing work of the research nursing team at the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre who care for patients taking part in cancer research in Newcastle, and how worthwhile a career as a clinical research nurse can be.
“The project for which I was nominated, was about developing innovative ways of supporting student nurses to gain a greater understanding about the role of clinical research nurse and hopefully increase their enthusiasm to apply for research nursing posts in the future.
Ben adds: “Working on this project also highlighted to me what amazing nursing, midwifery and allied health professional research and practice placement education teams we have at the Newcastle Hospitals, which enabled this development to evolve. And also what fantastic local universities we have in the region – Teesside and Sunderland universities have been amazing in supporting me to get this project started, and they continue to support its future development within their establishments.”
The findings from Ben’s initiative were published in the ‘Royal College of Cancer Nursing Practice’ in early 2019 under the title of ‘Making cancer research nursing an attractive career choice’.
He presented his project at the RCNi Cancer Nursing Practice conference a few months later, where an article was written in the Nursing Standard ‘Campaign to promote research as a career sparks nursing students’ interest’.
It is hoped that further circulation of Ben’s work will continue to have a positive impact on recruitment to clinical research nursing posts, and support clinical trial development in the future.
You can find out more about the RCNi Awards on their website.