Akifah Patwary has taken a year away from her studies to gain hands-on experience during a placement as Clinical Research Support Worker. Her blog explains why she decided to join the team at Northern Care Alliance and how her role is going.
One skill I have developed through my studies in university is to always think outside the box. As well as studying Biomedical Science, which consisted of fixed modules over three years, I also wanted to explore opportunities outside of academia. I wanted to step out my comfort zone and apply my degree in a real life setting to obtain valuables experience in the field. This made me adamant to take a gap year for work experience before studying for the final year of my degree.
Undertaking a placement was the perfect opportunity for me to take a break from studying and gain that work experience. When looking for placement roles, I found my current research assistant role for Northern Care Alliance which aligned with my academic and professional objectives.
Dynamic and comprehensive
The role seemed quite broad and covered many areas such as facing patients in clinical areas, handling samples, data management, working in laboratories, learning about different clinical trials, and attending site initiation visits. The advertisement portrayed a dynamic and comprehensive experience that I was eager to be a part of.
Starting this job with my only experience of working in retail, hospitality and customer service, everything was brand new to me as I was in a hospital environment and working on professional trials essential for future medical practices. This has enhanced my professionalism and my ability to multitask.
As a research support worker, I support on variety of trials such as respiratory, surgical procedures, neurology, patient feedback and more. It is more than just handling data behind the screen; you get to communicate with patients and every day I learn something new about remedies, science, and research designs. I have also been given a brain bank tour in the laboratories which was a big eye opener for me as I was presented with post-mortem brain collections which allowed me to learn a lot about neurological research.
My favourite study which I am currently working on is the Liquid Biopsy for Brain Tumours. I assist by collecting tear samples from eligible patients as the study focuses on how we can use tears drops as an early diagnostic tool to detect brain tumours. The innovation in this research is fascinating and it has really enhanced my laboratory skills, such as dry ice handling, blood centrifugation to extract plasma and storage of samples.
There are days where it may feel repetitive, and you could be in the office managing data or completing training all day, but the next day could be versatile and have you on your feet all day not even noticing your shift is nearly finished. Clinical research is a fantastic field to get into, especially if you’re a student, as you are contributing to phenomenal treatments that will save patients’ lives in the future. It’s a great experience to have in your arsenal as you get good insight into clinical as well as research roles.
Interested in a student placement at NCA? There’s more information here: https://www.northerncarealliance.nhs.uk/research-education/placement-opportunities