By Siobhán O’Connor
For those public health researchers with a specific clinical background, tapping into a local and national network of clinical researchers can make a huge difference in terms of how your research progresses and opportunities for a long-term research career.
For example, the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Profession (NMAHP) network is a national multidisciplinary research group within Scotland that supports and promotes research by nurses, midwives and other allied health professionals. They have a specific research unit, funded by the Chief Scientist Office, which is based in Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of Stirling. The NMAHP RU (@NMAHPRu) produces a range of innovative health research and develops research capacity and capabilities across Scotland.
Such initiatives undertaken by this clinical network include the setup of a Clinical eHealth web portal where nurses, midwives and allied health professionals can keep up to date with developments in digital health across NHS Scotland (http://www.knowledge.scot.nhs.uk/ehealth.aspx). Dr Lesley Holdsworth, Chair of the National NMAHP eHealth network, introduced this online knowledge tool at the recent BCS Health Informatics Scotland conference in Edinburgh. This digital platform enables researchers to keep informed about, and involved in, eHealth research programmes operating within the health service. Resources on the web portal include key strategy and policy documents related to eHealth in Scotland as well as details on relevant upcoming conferences, workshops and events. There is also a map finder where you can search and locate clinical leaders in nursing informatics in each health board. An online forum can also be used by members where they can discuss ideas and developments in health informatics in their particular area and share learning between groups across Scotland.
Jane Harris, Programme Director of NMAHP from NHS Education Scotland also gave a presentation at this year’s BCS Health Informatics Scotland conference on a new educational initiative. Jane spoke about the importance of training all nurses in eHealth and in particular experienced nurses and clinical leaders from across a variety of specialities in the NHS. This is key to bringing new technological developments to frontline care to improve health service delivery and support patients. Jane introduced the eNMAHP Leadership Programme which has started to train key clinical staff from a range of backgrounds in innovations in digital health so they can introduce these into their practice (https://vimeo.com/125067719). These developments will ultimately have a long term impact on eHealth research happening across the NHS as networks of researchers and clinical practitioners come together to harness the potential of new technologies in health.
Whatever your background, familiarising yourself with local and national clinical research networks in your area can widen your perspective and enhance your PhD and postdoctoral research.