Jack Murray is one of our reserach nurses. We asked him to tell us about how he got involved in research, what his role involves and what he enjoys best about it.
What does being a Research Nurse involve?
I help arrange clinical trials taking place within the Trust. I co-ordinate with the organisation funding the trial, my colleagues, and participants to make sure study days go smoothly and data is recorded accurately. On study visit days I carry out patient care tasks with participants, such as blood tests, electrocardiograms (ECGs) and any other tests required. I also process blood samples in the centrifuge and record data such as vital signs and questionnaire answers.
Each day varies. Some days I am helping with recruitment by screening and approaching new participants. Other times I am communicating with different colleagues to plan study visits or entering data afterwards. On the day of a study visit, I am doing all sorts of jobs depending on the study: cannulation and bloodwork, processing samples in the centrifuge, ECG tests, as well as making sure the participants are comfortable and aware of the proceedings.
People are often surprised I’m a Registered Nurse! This job is not what people expect when you tell them you are a nurse. With most of the work being office based, it is not what I thought I would be doing when I was a student at Oxford Brookes University. But for anyone who wants a change from working on wards, or fancies getting involved in research – it is a great option.
What is the favourite part of working at the Trust?
My colleagues. Everyone I work with, or even briefly communicate with, is friendly and helpful, as well as hardworking and dedicated to their role. It is great to get along with your team and know everyone is working hard to help deliver the best service possible. It is a great working culture to be a part of.
Can you give an overview of your career? What are you most proud of?
After getting my nursing qualifications, I worked on a cardiothoracic (organs within the chest) surgery ward for two years, and in A&E for a year after that. I was then an Assessment and Reconnection Worker for the homeless charity ‘St Mungo’s’ for a year, before starting this job in January 2022. I am proud of having helped bring people care, comfort and advocacy when they are at a vulnerable point in their life.
How did you get interested in research?
I have always had a curiosity for research – how theories and concepts are developed and tested to go on and influence the way we care for people or develop new treatments. After working in other settings for the first few years of my career, I started to consider more and more getting involved in research, and this job was a fantastic opportunity to do that.
What are you working on at the moment?
One study I am currently helping with is looking into the link between social media, smartphone use and self-harm in young people. My role is to screen and recruit participants. We are engaging with young people who have accessed mental health services in South-East London. We want to understand how social media and smartphone use are associated with changes in mental health and wellbeing in young people over the course of a year.
We are also in the process of setting up a clinical trial that is investigating the effect of a certain medication on the symptoms of schizophrenia. The participants take the medication (or a placebo) and their symptoms are measured with ‘rating scales’ (long form, specialist questionnaires) over the course of a 6-month period.
What would you say to someone considering participating in a clinical trial as a patient or a healthy volunteer?
There are many reasons to get involved with a trial. Often it can be a way to get treatment not yet available to the general population. You are helping develop and improve treatments for people with the same condition as you. There are usually very few risks involved in trial participation, which are made very clear before consenting to take part. Furthermore participants are monitored carefully and in accordance to the treatment for the duration of the study.