Zoe Thomas

Hybrid role combines critical care and research

“I find research fascinating, I feel valued and I feel like I can make a difference.”

Research has been a thread running through senior nurse Zoe Thomas’s career – and it’s one that brings new challenges all the time.

An early role working at a private clinical trials company set her on the path to becoming a nurse as she found dealing with patients rewarding and interesting.

Since then, her clinical nursing career has seen her work in a wide variety of settings – in the community and in government as well as on different hospital wards, ending up in the intensive care unit at Fairfield General Hospital.

But after 14 years she felt ready for a new challenge when an unusual opportunity came up to combine her clinical role with working in Bury Care Organisation’s dedicated research delivery team.

Strong relationships

Since February, Zoe and her colleague Chinelo Ogbeide have split their time between ICU and research delivery of intensive care studies. It means they each work clinically for two weeks, then switch to research for the next fortnight.

This way of working has lots of advantages, says Zoe. “I didn’t want work to become routine – having something new and fresh is the challenge I needed. But it’s also a help knowing the ICU team very well, we know the lie of the land and have already built relationships with colleagues there, including the Consultants who are Principal Investigators.

“It is quite demanding though and you have to be organized with your time and prepared to be flexible.”

Zoe and Chinelo are currently supporting five studies:

  • UK-ROX which is comparing two approaches to oxygen therapy
  • GenOMICC, taking DNA samples from critically ill patients with a range of conditions to discover which genes control the processes that lead to life-threatening illness
  • SIGNET, evaluating the benefit of a statin given to organ donors before retrieval on outcomes for organ recipients
  • T4P- The Threshold for Platelets study: a prospective randomised trial to define the platelet count below which critically ill patients should receive a platelet transfusion prior to an invasive procedure.
  • EVISEarly Vasopressors in Sepsis

With such different studies, they work closely with colleagues from many other disciplines and Zoe says it’s important to understand their roles as well as her own – and always to have her questions ready! “I’m one of those people who always has to ask why – and that’s at the heart of research, it’s finding the answers to the questions we have about disease, diagnosis, care and treatment.”

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