Neda Shahedy holding her care certificate

Placement year gives student Neda fresh skills in research

Research Support Worker Neda Shahedy has joined the research team at Salford Royal on a year-long placement as part of her Biomedical Science degree. This is a new route into research for NCA but has been very successful for both Neda and the team. Here she explains more about her role and how it is enhancing her academic work.

“Having completed my second year at Manchester Metropolitan University, I had the opportunity to undertake a placement year (also known as a sandwich course). After discussions with university careers staff, I was instantly intrigued by the Research Support Worker role as it combined both patient care and clinical research. The duration of 12 months also means I will gain a more well-rounded experience by observing and taking part in different tasks.

My Biomedical Science degree covers a broad area and I have been able to apply my knowledge from first and second year to the studies and clinical trials within both the Acute Research and Inpatient Research teams. Reading up on the studies and seeing familiar terminology helped me understand the purpose of the study and the science behind it. I have immersed myself in many opportunities including attending research meetings, laboratory sessions and as you are reading this, writing a blog for the NIHR ‘Your Path in Research’ campaign!

The tasks that I do day to day include recruiting patients both on the wards and via phone and gaining their consent to take part in research studies. Many studies that I am involved in include follow ups, which means patient contact is extended even further.

I have also supported the processing of blood samples in the biomedicine laboratories. I was able to observe an MRI brain scan and am planning to observe the work done in The University of Manchester’s Brain Bank, which is hosted by NCA. As a result of being exposed to different ideas and tasks within Research and Innovation, I can make an informed decision when choosing a field to become more focused and specialised in the future.

Another key attraction of the role was having the opportunity to complete the care certificate. This is an agreed set of 15 standards that define the knowledge, skills and behaviours expected of specific job roles in the health and social care sectors. I completed this useful reflective tool in eight weeks and was able to set myself targets to achieve each standard, which helped with prioritising tasks and things to look out for and complete when on the wards recruiting patients. I had support from my manager, colleagues (who acted as my mentors), and the care certificate tutor.

Neda Shahedy looking through a microscope in a laboratory

Taking a break from academic life was a new chapter for me. The past three months have shown me a wide variety of roles within Research and Innovation and has been the start of my path in research. I have used NIHR Learn to complete training linked to my role, including Good Clinical Practice (GCP). From stroke to surgical studies, I have developed my communication, presentation, and people skills. In addition to these, being sympathetic, flexible, and organised, have all been of great use and are transferrable skills which I will carry forward during the rest of my year-long placement, my final year of university and my future career.

The title Research Support Worker is a new one, and I am grateful to be one of the first to be given it and be able to join the NHS. I would like to thank Manchester Metropolitan University for allowing students like myself to undertake a placement year and Salford Royal for arranging such a valuable experience. I am in awe of what goes on behind the scenes so that rehabilitation programmes, medications, and medical equipment can be rolled out for patients.

I recommend students to undertake a placement year, if possible, to expand their knowledge and gain new skills. If you are new, have recently joined or are planning to join the NHS or other healthcare settings, the care certificate is a useful tool to help focus on specific areas within the field and is a practical method for self-reflection. If you have a vision and are keen to learn more and step outside of your comfort zone, trying something new and experiencing a different lifestyle can really give you a good perspective on yourself and your future.

A top tip that I stand by is ask questions and have a go, in order to gain the most out of your role within research!”


  • Neda’s role as a Research Support Worker isn’t just about her gaining experience – her managers say she is making a really valuable contribution to their teams’ work.

She’s been able to support screening, patient recruitment, follow-ups and data collection for several studies as part of the acute and inpatient research delivery teams.

Beth Charles, who leads the inpatient team, said: “Neda has picked things up very quickly and completed a wide range of training (including lab training, Good Clinical Practice and venepuncture). She’s now able to work independently on studies and we know we can trust her to complete work to a high standard.”

Tracy Marsden, who’s in charge of the acute team, added: “Having a Research Support Worker in our team has been really beneficial. Neda has gained lots of practical experience and is able to use this to support some of our priority studies, including two key stroke studies. She is definitely an asset to the team.”

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